World No 1 Iga Swiatek reached her 11th quarter-final of the year at the AGEL Open 2022 after Ajla Tomljanovic was forced to retire due to injury on Wednesday, while Petra Kvitova upset 2nd-seeded Paula Badosa and Karolina Muchova felled the No 7 seed, Beatriz Haddad Maia.
The whole match, every game was very, very tight. It was really about a few points. Paula really played great. It was really tough to break each other, but in the second set, we did it a few times. I had to really close it out with good serves because, otherwise, she put everything back in the last few games. It was really difficult physically, and mentally as well. Petra Kvitova
Safely through is Barbora Krejcikova, who completed the 2nd-round line-up with a 6-2 6-2 win overAmerican Shelby Rogers.
Having a received a bye, Swiatek advanced when the Australian qualifier was forced to retire due to a left knee injury trailing 7-5, 2-2.
“We played in Toronto and I saw in the US Open how well Ajla played — it seems she’s really on a roll and she’s playing better and better,” Swiatek said on court afterwards. “It was a great match and it’s unfortunate that something happened — I hope she’s going to recover quickly.
“I’ve had a three-week break from playing matches and, after such an intense time, it seems like a lot.
“I felt like I need to get back to the rhythm, and it wasn’t easy.
“I had a bye, and Ajla already played a few matches. So I felt like I need to catch up. But I’m pretty happy this match was so intense, because I feel like I had to go to another level and it’s going to prepare me for the next matches.”
Playing her first match since lifting her 3rd Grand Slam trophy at the US Open, Swiatek found herself embroiled in a tight tussle against Tomljanovic before the Australian started to ail in the second set.
Tomljanovic began clutching her knee in the second game of the second set, and called it quits after holding serve to level at 2-2.
The first had turned into a tussle, despite Swiatek racing to a 4-1 lead, only for Tomljanovic to level at 4-4.
The Polish top seed produced a series of spectacular winners to come within 2 points of a 5-1 lead but, once Tomljanovic escaped with the hold, things got close.
Tomljanovic held 2 break points, but failed to take either, and Swiatek was quick to take advantage of the reprieve and edged out the set, converting on her 2nd set point when Tomljanovic netted a volley.
No 34-ranked Tomljanovic continued to demonstrate her competitive spirit in a fiercely contested start to the second, in which all 4 games went to deuce.
Two astonishing gets from Swiatek helped her come through a 6-deuce 2nd game to break Tomljanovic back but, unfortunately, the match ended 2 games later just as it was getting very interesting.
Swiatek has now notched up 58 wins this year, the most wins in a single season since Caroline Wozniacki posted 60 in 2017.
She will face either home wild-card Karolina Muchova or qualifier Caty McNally, both renowned for their variety.
McNally’s touch, and a delightful ‘tweener’ got the American past fellow qualifier Russian Anna Blinkova, 6-1 6-2, on Tuesday.
Muchova, a former World No 19, upset Brazilian Haddad Maia, 6-4 6-4, coming from a break down in both sets.
It was the Czech’s first win over a Top 20 opponent since defeating Maria Sakkari in the 2nd-round of Roland Garros, and continues an uptick in form this month after an injury-hit season.
Swiatek, a semi-finalist in Ostrava last year when she fell to Sakkari, is bidding for her first tour-level title on indoor hard courts this week, having won one ITF trophy on the surface at the Stockholm W10 in 2006, her first ever pro title at the age of 15.
Kvitova, who is a home favourite here, scored her third Top 5 win of the season with a straight-sets triumph over Spain’s Badosa in the 2nd-round, but needed 8 match points and just over 2 hours on court to accomplish the task.
The Czech left-hander moves through to the quarter-finals of the Agel Open after a 7-6(4) 6-4 upset of 2 seed seed and World No 4.
The two-time Wimbledon champion, a wild-card in the field this week, is through to her 5th quarter-final of the season after 4th Top 10 win this year.
“The whole match, every game was very, very tight,” Kvitova said after the match. “It was really about a few points. Paula really played great. It was really tough to break each other, but in the second set, we did it a few times.
“I had to really close it out with good serves because, otherwise, she put everything back in the last few games. It was really difficult physically, and mentally as well.”
Badosa has now dropped her opening match for the 4th time in her last 5 events.
The high-quality contest matched the pedigree of the two players, with Kvitova hitting a staggering 42 winners to 26 unforced errors, a ratio she needed in facing of Badosa’s 8 aces, 19 winners and 7 unforced errors, while the Czech also saved 9 of the 10 break points.
Neither lost serve in the opening set, and Kvitova was the only one to face break point.
She saved all 5 chances Badosa had at 1-1, and did not face another break point in the rest of the set.
Six straight points in the tiebreak gave Kvitova the cushion she needed and although Badosa saved 3 consecutive set points, the Czech pocketed the set.
in the second, they traded breaks, before Kvitova reasserted her command by breaking Badosa at 3-3.
From there on in, she found her vintage best and, after failing to convert 6 match points on Badosa’s serve at 5-3, and one more on her own delivery in the next game, the Czech left-hander fired a forehand winner down the line and an un-returnable serve to seal the match.
For a place in her 3rd semi-final of the year, Kvitova will next face fellow Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina, who rallied from a break down in the final set to defeat Aliaksandra Sasnovich, 6-7(5) 6-4 7-5.
Sasnovich served for the match at 5-4 in the 3rd set before Rybakina reeled off the last 3 games to win.
It will be the first meeting between Kvitova and Rybakina.