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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Wednesday May 17, 2023


Ailing Iga Swiatek retired in the third set, sending Elena Rybakina through to the Rome semifinals.

Photo Source: TTV

Two-time defending Rome champion Iga Swiatek suffered an injury to her right thigh and pulled out of her quarterfinal with nemesis Elena Rybakina, bowing out 2-6, 7-6(3), 2-2 RET and leaving a tournament she has dominated under an injury cloud on Wednesday evening at the Foro Italico.

Tennis Express

It was a difficult blow for Swiatek, who pulled up lame after the penultimate point of the second set tiebreak, and immediately placed her hand on her right knee.

When the set was finished she went off court for a medical timeout and returned to play with heavy strapping on her right thigh. After four games in the decider, Swiatek retired, sending the Wimbledon champion into the last four for the first time at Rome.

The official reason for Swiatek’s withdrawal was listed as a right thigh injury by the WTA Tour.

“I saw something happen in the tiebreak, on almost the last point but I didn't know how serious it is,” Rybakina said, according to WTA Insider. “I saw that the first two games she started really aggressive so I understood that she couldn't really move that much."

According to Swiatek's team, she will undergo an MRI on Thursday morning.

The loss will be difficult on multiple levels for Swiatek. She dropped to 0-3 against Rybakina in 2023, and has struggled with injuries in their last two meetings. Seeking to gain the upper hand against the World No.6 after straight sets in this year’s Australian Open and BNP Paribas Open, Swiatek was quick out of the gates as she dictated play and took the opening set, 6-2.

Rybakina was resolute while trailing, and bided her time before rallying from a break down in the second set, leveling at 4-all. She then saved a total of four break points (three at 4-4 and another at 5-5) to get into a second set tiebreak. From there the Kazakh took charge and forced a decider.

Given that Swiatek is known for her prowess on the slow clay in Rome and Roland-Garros, the performance is an eye opener from Rybakina, who is not known for her clay game but is proving this week that she is a worthy adversary on the surface.

The 23-year-old improves to 33-17 lifetime on the clay and will face Jelena Ostapenko for a spot in the final.

Swiatek drops to 56-9 lifetime on clay, 28-6 overall on the season, and 14-2 overall at Rome.

The Pole’s invincible aura has been slowly chipped away all season by the likes of Rybakina and Aryna Sabalenka. Collectively the pair have gone 4-1 against Swiatek and collected prestigious titles at the Australian Open (Sabalenka), Indian Wells (Rybakina) and Madrid (Sabalenka).

Now the top-ranked Pole will have to deal with her second injury concern of the season.

In March Swiatek suffered a rib injury at Indian Wells that forced her out of Miami. Given a clean bill of health she returned to defend her title at Stuttgart, then reached the final at Madrid, where she was boxed out by Sabalenka.

The two-time French Open champion will have over a week to recover for her Roland-Garros title defense – main draw play begins on Sunday May 28 in Paris.

When she arrives at her happy hunting ground, she’ll be well aware that she is the hunted.


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