No.7 seed Iga Swiatek displayed her never-say-die attitude while overcoming Kaia Kanepi from a set and a break down to book a ticket into the semifinal of the Australian Open for the first time. She survived a three-hour marathon to win the match 4-6, 7-6, 6-3. The 3-hour, 1-minute victory is the longest match of Swiatek’s young career at a Grand Slam to date, bettering a 2-hour, 42-minute 6-7, 7-5, 7-5 defeat to Anett Kontaveit in the third round in Australia two years ago.
“I’m pretty proud of myself, especially after matches like that, because coming back from losing the first set it’s a new thing for me. Being in the semifinal is great,” Swiatek said after the match. “I’m proud of myself that I can, I’m still able to, find solutions and actually think more on court on what to change because before it wasn’t that clear for me. I feel like it’s part of the work that we have been doing with [sports psychologist] Daria [Abramowicz] to control my emotions and actually focus on finding solutions.”
It was Kaia Kanepi who started on the front foot in the opening set. Iga Swiatek saved eight set points before losing the first set. Soon, she found herself down 6-4, 1-0 as she struggled to match Kanepi’s level of play. After Kanepi had four game points to extend her lead to 2-0, Swiatek finally broke and ran off four games in a row.
Soon, Kanepi hit back to win three straight, but both players were not again challenged on serve until the tiebreak, where Swiatek took control of it from the beginning. Swiatek broke four times in the decider, as she went on to seal the set and the match.
“I wasn’t even thinking a lot,” Swiatek said of the match point. “I was just running. I was actually thinking where is the biggest probability where she can hit the smash, for example. But I’m doing that every time basically someone does that. Obviously, it’s luck that you’re gonna go the right way. There is that probability, but you never know what your opponent is gonna do.
“I was pretty lucky, I would say, but on the other hand, I’m happy that I’m doing that, because … maybe I’m not running to the ball that I’m not gonna hit, but I’m always doing that two steps, you know, to be ready. This time it paid off.”
Swiatek will next take on No.27 seed Danielle Collins. “I will approach it the same as any other match, really. I have played with some heavy hitters on this tournament already, so I feel like I’m feeling their game on my racquet pretty well,” Swiatek said.
“Two matches showed me that even in tough moments I can come back, and I have skills to win matches even when they are really hard. For sure it’s gonna be hard, and she’s in great shape, you can see that, and really like confident. But I also feel that way. I just hope it’s gonna be a good match.”