Indian Wells | Swiatek, Kostyuk, Gauff and Sakkari into Last 4

Iga Swiatek reached the Last 4 at the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells when Caroline Wozniacki retired hurt, and will meet Marta Kostyuk for a place in the final, while Coco Gauff also advanced to take on Maria Sakkari on Friday.

I have a huge respect for her, and I'm sad she has to go that way. I'm sure she will recover and I hope she will be ready for Miami, but I'm happy that I played well enough in first set to win it. Iga Świątek

Swiatek, the World No 1, had battled for the first set on Thursday when Wozniacki pulled out of their competitive quarter-final with a foot injury at the start of the second, the score standing at 6-4, 1-0 in favour of the top seed.

The intriguing match-up between the current and former No 1s saw 33-year-old Wozniacki race to a 4-1 lead, but 22-year-old Swiatek found her range and reeled off 5 straight games, pocketing the first set 6-4 and taking a 1-0 lead in the second before Wozniacki called a halt, having received treatment for an apparent blister on her right foot at the end of the first set.

Swiatek, the 2022 Indian Wells champion, booked a semi-final meeting with Ukraine’s Marta Kostyuk, who beat Russian Anastasia Potapova, 6-0 7-5.

Later, US Open champion Coco Gauff reached the Indian Wells semis for the first time, beating China’s Yuan Yue, 6-4 6-3 and she will take on Maria Sakkari, the 9th seed from Greece, who fought her way past Emma Navarro, the conqueror of Aryna Sabalenka on Wednesday, 5-7 6-2 6-4, after a near 3-hour battle.

Swiatek said it was a sad way to get past Wozniacki, who won Indian Wells in 2011.

“I have a huge respect for her, and I’m sad she has to go that way,” Swiatek said. “I’m sure she will recover and I hope she will be ready for Miami, but I’m happy that I played well enough in first set to win it.”

The two last played back in 2019 in Toronto, which was 7 months after Swiatek made her WTA main draw debut, and 5 months before Wozniacki retired, and the Pole won 1-6 6-3 6-4. Wozniacki was ranked No18 and Swiatek 65 at the time.

Iga Swiatek needed all her skills to come from behind to win the first set against Caroline Wozniacki on Stadium 1 at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden

© Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Wozniacki is now a mother of two who returned to the circuit last season, and she started strongly in her bid for a first win over a reigning No 1 since she beat Simona Halep to win the 2018 Australian Open.

The 33-year old Dane, who was contesting her first WTA quarter-final in 4 years, looked sharp in the opening games, and, after saving 3 break points in her first service game, used a strong angled return to break for a 3-1 lead, which she quickly consolidated to go up 4-1.

Swiatek, who won the title in Doha last month before a semi-final exit in Dubai, gradually hit her stride and found her range, and her heavy hitting helped her to break back 2 games later to level, and then prevailed in a lengthy 9th game, converting her 4th break point to move ahead, 5-4.

The 22-year old Pole won her 5th straight game with an ace, closing out the set in emphatic fashion.

Wozniacki took a medical time-out to have her right foot re-strapped at the end of the set, but that failed to improve the situation, and she gestured to Swiatek that she was unable to continue after the Pole had taken a 1-0 lead in the second, all over after 65 minutes of play.

“I just wanted to hit the ball more clean, honestly, because it wasn’t easy,” Swiatek said. “I had many chances, but, with her defence, she’s putting pressure on the opponents. You’re playing forehand, backhand and everywhere.

“She’s running a lot and giving everything back. So sometimes I made mistakes, you know, I couldn’t really finish the rally.

“I wanted to really just stay patient, and calm, and try to be more solid. In the second set I felt like I can go for it… I wanted also to influence some stuff in the second set, but I didn’t get a chance.”

Swiatek was well into her cool-down routine in the locker room when Carlos Alcaraz walked onto Stadium Court for his quarter-final, and, 2 games into the match, a swarm of bees descended on the court prompting chair umpire Mohammed Lahyani to halt play.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” he announced, “Play is suspended due to bee invasion.”

In her post-match press conference she noticed the reporters all staring at the television screens behind her.

“I’m glad I’m not there anymore,” Swiatek said. “That’s crazy. There was nothing, like, 30 minutes ago. I would run away…. I would get, like, so many time violations.”

Marta Kostyuk staved off a late challenge by Anastasia Potapova in her quarter-final at Indian Wells

© Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Swiatek will take on the No 31 seed, Marta Kostyuk, in Friday’s semi-finals, having defeated the Ukrainian in their only previous meeting, notching up a 6-3 6-4 win in the Round of 16 at 2021 Roland Garros.

The 21-year old Ukrainian got off to a hot start with a bagel opening set, roaring through it in just 22 minutes, before quashing Potapova’s come-back bid in the second, getting to grips with the blustery conditions.

Kostyuk, who reached her first Grand Slam quarter-final at this year’s Australian Open, held a commanding 6-0, 3-0 lead on Thursday before the Russian, seeded 28, turned the tussle into a real showdown, coming all the way back to 5-5.

The No 31 seed managed to right the ship in the final 2 games, though, collecting her victory after just 68 minutes, winning 54% of points returning the Potapova first serve, and 70% of points against the Russian’s second delivery, and recording her first win in 3 career meetings with Potapova..

On the prospect of meeting Swiatek in the semi-finals, Kostyuk said: “Let’s not put expectations too high. She’s a great competitor, she’s been on top of the game for two years already.

“I practiced with [her] in Doha, I was really looking forward to actually playing her in the match. I think it will be a great match.

“I don’t know what else to say, because I’m excited, and I played her in Paris three years ago, and it was a bit different match. We were both in different positions. Even more exciting now.”

Coco Gauff saw off Yuan Yue to become the youngest US woman to reach the Indian Wells semi-finals since Serena Williams in 2001

© Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Later, Coco Gauff, who celebrated her 20th birthday on Wednesday, became the youngest US woman to reach the Indian Wells semi-finals since Serena Williams in 2001.

In an error-strewn encounter, Gauff served up 17 double-faults but was able to break Yuan Yue 5 times, rallying from a 1-3 deficit in the second set to close it out against the World No 49 from China, who won her first WTA title in Austin 2 weeks ago.

“I’m really happy to be through today’s match,” Gauff said. “It wasn’t the best style of the serving, but, overall, I think, when it comes to the groundstroke game and returns, everything else, honestly, I played well.”

Gauff, who said she celebrated her birthday with steak tacos, saved 7 of the 10 break points she faced over the match, including 3 to avoid going 4-1 down in the second set.

“I pretty much just relied on me just out-rallying her, and being aggressive,” Gauff added. “I think a lot of break points that were saved, at least in that second set, I just remember hitting a lot of forehand winners.”

Playing on Stadium 2, Gauff found out later about the bee invasion on Stadium 1.

“I’ve never seen anything like that,” Gauff told reporters. “Did Alcaraz actually get stung?

“I saw the video of him trying to run away. I said he wasn’t fast enough. He’s a fast guy on the court, but I think he was trying to ask for clarification on what was going on. I would have [taken the] time violation, just leave. That’s just one of those things that I just… you can’t defeat the bees!”

Gauff joined Swiatek and Wozniacki as the only players to have reached 5 WTA 1000 semi-finals before the age of 21.

Maria Sakkari edged out Emma Navarro after nearly 3 hours to make the Last 4, and will meet Coco Gauff for a place in the final

© Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

In Friday’s semi-finals Gauff will face 9th-seeded Maria Sakkari of Greece, who ended American Emma Navarro’s run with a 3-set win.

Sakkari, who is working with new coach David Witt for the first time at Indian Wells after a patchy run of results, closed out the evening with a come-back win over Navarro to reach the semi-finals of the tournament for a 3rd straight year.

“That was the toughest match I’ve played in a while,” said Sakkari. “Emma is an incredible player… She’s been playing amazing. It’s a huge win. I’m very happy I found a way to win this match today.”

After losing the first set, the Greek jumped to a 4-0 lead on the way to comfortably taking the second, and, in the decider, she broke 22-year-old Navarro’s serve in the 9th game to serve for the match.

While the American did fight off 1 match point, Sakkari was able to secure the win in the California desert after almost 3 hours of hard-fought play.

“Emma is an incredible player,” repeated the 28-year-old in her post match interview. “She’s a very nice girl. I got to meet her the last few days. She’s been playing amazing.

“It’s a huge win for me. I’m very happy I found a way to win this match today.”

Sakkari has now won 4 straight matches and enjoying her best run since her title win last year in Guadalajara.



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