French Open champion Iga Swiatek swept into the final of the Adelaide International with an emphatic 6-3 6-2 win over Jil Teichmann on Friday, and she will meet Belinda Bencic on Saturday, who held off Coco Gauff to advance, 7-6(2) 6-7(4) 6-2.
It was my goal from the beginning of the season, I want to be [a] more consistent player, just play good week by week. I know it's impossible sometimes. You're just going to get tired at some point. But I felt pretty good from the beginning of the tournament. It's really important for me. Just I feel that it's going to be easier year by year because I'm going to be, like, more grown-up, I'm going to be able to physically and mentally handle tournaments every week. Iga Świątek
The 19-year-old Pole had too much power for her Swiss opponent, and took 78-minute to get past the World No 61 to reach the 3rd final of her blossoming career.
Despite Bencic missing a match point in the second set, the 23-year old Swiss ended Gauff’s fairytale run from the qualifying into the semi-finals after a 2 hours and 37 minute battle.
Swiatek, the 5th seed in Adelaide, says she feels comfortable on the courts at Memorial Drive.
“I feel perfect on court,” she said. “I feel really solid and that’s the most important thing for me because I enjoy everything.
“I hope tomorrow I also play well.”
Swiatek was dominant in the opening set, breaking the Swiss left-hander’s serve in the 4th game.
Teichmann appeared fatigued at times after her 3-hour marathon quarter-final win over Anastasjia Sevastova on Thursday.
The Pole’s powerful groundstrokes kept Teichmann on the back foot, pushing the Swiss into a series of unforced errors, 13 in the first set alone.
Teichmann failed to convert a break point in the 4th game of the second, which was her only chance in the match, and it proved critical as Swiatek held serve, and then broke the unseeded Swiss twice to power through, maintaining her perfect record for the week in not dropping a single set.
“It was my goal from the beginning of the season, I want to be [a] more consistent player, just play good week by week,” Swiatek said, during her post-match press conference.
“I know it’s impossible sometimes. You’re just going to get tired at some point.
“But I felt pretty good from the beginning of the tournament. It’s really important for me.
“Just I feel that it’s going to be easier year by year because I’m going to be, like, more grown-up, I’m going to be able to physically and mentally handle tournaments every week.
“It was my goal, so I’m pretty happy everything worked here. Hopefully other WTA tournaments I’m going to be able to do that also.”
Swiatek burst onto the scene last year when she won at Roland Garros in October, beating then World No 6 Sofia Kenin in the final.
She entered the Adelaide International ranked a career-high of 18 in the world, but will rise to 16 as a result of making the final, and could reach 15 if she wins the title.
Swiatek struck 17 winners to just 12 unforced errors on Friday, while Teichmann, who won 2 WTA singles titles on clay in 2019, scored 15 winners but leaked 20 unforced errors.
“I think she’s using lot of spin on her serve, so it was pretty tough at the beginning,” said Swiatek. “But then I was in a really good rhythm.
“When I broke her, I felt solid on my serve. I kind of felt in control from the beginning of the first set.
“Basically I’m focusing on everything, like every second of my being on court has a purpose,” Swiatek added.
After saving a break point in a 4-deuce game to hold for 2-1 in the second set, Teichmann battled to her first break point opportunity of the match in another closely contested game, but Swiatek used big backhands to power her way out of the jam, and reeled off the last 5 games to slide into Saturday’s championship match.
“[The] second set was pretty tough because I needed, like, two 10-minute games or something like that to break,” said Swiatek. “I was feeling pretty, like, tired of being constantly focused. But it was worth it.”
Belinda Bencic showed her mettle against Coco Gauff by playing with composure in the crucial moments, which made all the difference and helped her win the rollercoaster match in 3 sets to book her place in her 11th career final.
The No 2 seed quelled the American qualifier in a contest full of see-sawing momentum shifts, winning the first set from 1-4 down and losing the second from 4-1 up.
The Swiss held a match point at 5-3 that came and went and, with it, the set, but she made a strong recovery in the decider and did not loosen her grip to reach her first final since Moscow 2019.
“I’m very proud of myself that I handled this match after all the ups and downs,” said Bencic afterwards. “It’s always a mix of relief and joy.”
Bencic has been rebuilding her form over the Australian swing after enduring hard quarantine, and her week in Adelaide has paid dividends.
Striking 33 winners to 31 unforced errors against Gauff, Bencic’s ability to take the ball early and redirect it from line to line was key to her win.
The 23-year-old also proved difficult to out-manoeuvre, thanks to her superb anticipation.
“In the Australian Open, I felt like every ball I had to think about what I had to do to put it in court,” she elaborated. “Like, technically and legs – totally off timing. That’s what I call not confident.
“What I call confident is when you go the court and you think about where you’re going to serve, where she’s going to serve.
“You start thinking less about your game because you play the ball automatic. Then you’re able to think about the tactics, the bigger things. That’s what I call more confident.
“Everything just happens automatically and you can really focus on tactics and mentality – you don’t have to tell yourself to finish your forehand low to high so it goes in the court.
“Your reactions are like instincts – you don’t think about it.
“I’ve been playing tennis since I was three years old. You wake me up at 2am, I can still play the same type of movements. My brain knows what I have to do.”
Gauff started on the higher note, breaking early and racing to a 3-0 lead before Bencic struck back and, after 30 minutes, the match was poised at 4-4.
The first set went into a tiebreak in which the Swiss got the mini-break to take a 3-1 lead, and then rode it out, 7-2.
Bencic held serve in the opening game of the second, despite 3 double-faults, and in less than 10 minutes, she was up 3-0.
Both players struggled with double-faults, Bencic racking up 10 and Gauff 12, but it was the 16-year-old’s that proved most costly.
Gauff opened her second set account in the 4th game, and fought back to break Bencic to serve at 3-4, but whenever the young American became a real threat, the Swiss found a way to avoid her opponent’s advances, and she broke her again in the very next game.
This spurred on the American’s second-set escape, as she produced her most brilliant passage of play with a flurry of winners that included a confident smash to save match point to take matters into another breaker that went her way.
Gauff dropped serve in the first game of the final set, though, with consecutive double-faults, and never regained the momentum as Bencic consolidated ,and then extended her lead by breaking the American for the second time in the set.
With her back to the wall, Gauff conjured her finest winners serving to stay in the match at 1-5, looking for a 5th consecutive 3-set victory that was to prove beyond her.
Bencic, by contrast, was able to shake off the tension and disappointment of the second set loss to regain focus in the third, and after close to 3 hours, the former World No 4 sealed the set 6-2 and booked a spot in the final.
“I told myself that I have to stay really calm,” she said. “I knew she’s a big fighter. She always manages to come back from every score. I was prepared for that.”
While this was Bencic’s first competitive meeting with Gauff, she was familiar with the American teenager.
“I had a short hit with her in the Miami Open when she was even younger,” Bencic recalled. “I was really impressed already then.
“Definitely, you could see that she’s really not the average player.”
Next up is another teenage star in the Roland Garros champion Swiatek and Bencic, still the only player in the past decade to attain a Top 10 ranking before her 19th birthday, knows a thing or two about being a teenage prodigy herself.
“She has a different, little bit more unique game,” she assessed Swiatek. “It’s always better to play a little bit different than playing like everyone else. It always makes it more tough for opponents.
“I practised with her here a couple of times, so I know what to expect. Hopefully I can just apply it and have a good day.”
The meeting between Bencic and Swiatek will be their first.