Iga Swiatek was out-duelled in a marathon 3-setter by Beatriz Haddad Maia, 6-4 3-6 7-5, on Thursday in one of three such upset encounters played in windy conditions at the National Bank Open presented by Rogers.
I'm happy and proud of myself and my team, it's a special moment. It's not always easy to beat the number one on a huge stage and against all the crowd. I think I passed through very tough moments in my career to live this moment. I just want to enjoy a little bit. Beatriz Haddad Maia
Brazil’s Haddad Maia refused to lie down in a match that lasted 3 hours, and featured a combined 28 break point chances.
“I knew that all the matches here would be very tough, not only top 20 players, like the first round was a very, very tough round and I won in three sets as well,” 26-year-old Haddad Maia said during her on-court interview. “Tennis is like that.
“It doesn’t matter where you are playing, which court and with who. You need to push yourself to improve your game and, I think, that was the key for both [of my three-set] victories, and I am very proud of myself.”
The unseeded Brazilian proved the steadier in the first set as the World No 1 struggled to generate a single break point, while Haddad Maia consistently applied pressure Swiatek’s delivery, and leaned on her own powerful serve and groundstrokes.
The Polish top seed played 40 points on her serve in the opener, against Haddad Maia’s 25, and an early break for the Brazilian was all that she needed to pocket the first set without facing a break point.
Swiatek, the French Open champion, who had a run of 37 straight wins halted in the 3rd round at Wimbledon last month, said she was struggling with the windy conditions.
“I think, at the beginning, I struggled to find my rhythm on the court,” Swiatek admitted afterwards. “Probably because she’s lefty, and I had a hard time adjusting to her serve.
“And plus the wind. I think without the wind I would manage. But it was pretty crazy out there.”
Haddad Maia continued her return pressure early into the second as, in the longest game of the match, Swiatek fought to face down 5 break points to hold from 15-40 for 1-0.
Again, the set was decided by a sole break, but this time it was Swiatek who broke through, and then consolidated for a 5-2 lead before closing it out from there to level the match at a set all.
The decider remained a tight affair, with Swiatek earning the early break for 1-0, but then Haddad Maia broke twice to go up 4-2, only for the Pole to level proceedings at 4-4.
Ultimately, it was Haddad Maia’s continued pressure on return that decided the match, as she generated 19 break point chances against Swiatek’s 9 overall.
While Swiatek gamely saved 15 break points, the pressure took its toll, and as she served at 5-6 to force a tiebreak, Haddad Maia jumped on the Pole’s second delivery to earn match points at 15-40, and converted to close out the biggest win of her career.
The Brazilian had broken Swiatek 3 times in the decider, including in the final game on her 4th match point when the Pole sent a forehand wide.
It was the 26-year-old’s first win over a World No 1, and her 3rd Top 10 opponent this season, while she also became the first Brazilian woman in the open era to advance to the quarter-final of a WTA 1000 tournament.
She was the first from her country to face a No 1 since Telian Pereira lost to Serena Williams at Roland Garros in 2016.
A back-to-back champion on the grass in Nottingham and Birmingham, Haddad Maia arrived in Toronto at a career-high ranking of 24.
“I had a lot of tough moments in my career,” Haddad Maia said. “I have already had four surgeries and I’m only 26 years old. So when I have special moments I try to enjoy. “
Swiatek, whose 6 titles this season include the French Open, coughed up 9 double-faults, while Haddad Maia made only 1, and the 21-year Pole missed her chance at a 50th match win this year in a set-back that comes just 2 weeks ahead the US Open.
“Next time, maybe, I’m going to be able to find, even though the conditions are going to be bad, more solutions and just play more solid,” Swiatek told reporters. “Because I did a lot of mistakes that I kind of don’t accept.”
Swiatek’s run of 23 straight wins at the Masters 1000 level was also snapped in the difficult playing conditions.
“Right now, it’s hard to say if it was more her game, or the wind, that really messed up my first set,” Swiatek said. “I think she just used the conditions better than me.
“When she was playing with the wind, she was playing really strong balls and, sometimes, I was late for them.
“In the third set I knew [the mistakes] I’d made, so I know what I want to work on, and what I want to improve before the next tournament, for sure.”
Haddad Maia limited her unforced error count to 12, which she backed up with 23 winners, while Swiatek finished with 33 winners and 28 miscues.
“I’m happy and proud of myself and my team, it’s a special moment,” Haddad Maia said. “It’s not always easy to beat the number one on a huge stage and against all the crowd.
“I think I passed through very tough moments in my career to live this moment. I just want to enjoy a little bit.”
Haddad Maia will face Belinda Bencic, the 12th seed, in the quarter-finals, after the Swiss followed her victory over Serena Williams on Wednesday night by beating 8th-seeded Garbiñe Muguruza of Spain, 6-1 6-3, in the late night match.
“I don’t want to think about my next match,” added Haddad Maia with a smile.