Tennis

Warsaw | Swiatek cruises into quarters where Garcia awaits

World No 1 and top seed Iga Swiatek defeated Romanian Gabriela Lee, 6-3 6-2, on Thursday to advance to the quarter-finals at the BNP Paribas Poland Open, where she will meet 5th-seeded Caroline Garcia from France, who was a 6-3, 7-5 win over Elisabetta Cocciaretto from Italy.

At first it was tough to get used to her lefty spin, so I’m happy that during the match I was able to learn from my mistakes. I was finally able to position myself well, although today was a little bit nervous, less clean hits. Her spin and rhythm changes made it tough.

The 21-year-old Pole extended her clay-court winning streak to 18 matches, improving her win-loss record for the year to to 48-4, while she has not lost on the surface since the 2021 French Open quarter-finals.

On Wednesday Swiatek said she unfamiliar with Lee’s game.

“I mostly rely on what the coach tells me in such situations,” she said. “I usually don’t watch any matches of my opponents, because I’d rather rest up and regenerate, cut myself off these tennis duties.

“Coach Wiktorowski describes my opponent’s play-style to me, and suggests what should be included in the match, tactically.

“However, a big change this season is that I’m focusing on what I will do on court, not adjusting to the opponent, but playing my game.”

The two-time French Open champion produced a dominant display, striking 25 winners compared to just 3 for her opponent, while she saved the single break point she faced.

Playing again in front of a packed home crowd, it took a while for Swiatek to adapt to Lee’s unique game.

“At first it was tough to get used to her lefty spin, so I’m happy that during the match I was able to learn from my mistakes,” Swiatek admitted later. “I was finally able to position myself well, although today was a little bit nervous, less clean hits.

“Her spin and rhythm changes made it tough.”

The 25-year-old left-hander used her one-handed backhand to keep Swiatek at bay for the first half of the opening set as the two went level until 3-3, when an ill-timed double-fault from Lee opened the door for the Pole to storm ahead, breaking with a ferocious inside-in forehand.

Swiatek had been near-flawless on serve in the first set, conceding only one point behind her delivery, but Lee found her range on return slightly more, and even held break-back point trailing 1-4 following an exquisite drop-shot, before the Romanian squandered her sole chance with a forehand error, and the top seed motored to the finishing line.

Surprisingly, despite playing in her hometown, Swiatek is not living at her place during the tournament.

“I’m trying to simulate the conditions as they are usually on the tour, so I don’t really live at home,” she said. “I do it similar to footballers, I think. I moved to a hotel, my team is there with me.

“In a way, it’s easier because the routines stay the same. At home, I always find something to do. I’d rather focus on resting up and, in a hotel, there are less distractions.”

Caroline Garcia trailed in the second set before seeing off Elisabetta Cocciaretto and set up a quarter-final contest with Iga Swiatek in Warsaw

BNP Paribas Open/Facebook

Swiatek will next Garcia, ranked 45, in the quarters, after the Frenchwoman defeated Cocciaretto for the second time in as many weeks, backing up her 0-6, 6-3, 6-3 victory in Palermo with a straight sets win in Warsaw after an hour and 37 minutes.

Garcia saved all 5 break points she faced while converting 2 of the 4 break points she had on Cocciaretto’s serve.

Cocciaretto’s compatriot, Jasmine Paolini, needed 3 sets to reach the quarters in the Polish capital, the 10th seed posting a 6-1 6-7(1) 6-0 win against Garcia’s fellow countrywoman, Clara Burel, in an hour and 49 minutes.

Paolini didn’t face a single break point across the first and third sets while, in the decider, Burel didn’t win a point off her second serve, which added to the Italian’s domination in the proceedings.

Her opponent in the Last 8 is Viktorija Golubic, after the Swiss took 2 hours and 38 minutes to outpace another French player, Kristina Mladenovic, 6-7(4) 6-2 6-1.

Golubic wasted a 5-3 lead in the opening set before rallying to get past Mladenovic.

In the bottom half of the draw, 8th-seeded Petra Martic will play Ukraine’s lucky loser Kateryna Baindl for a chance to reach the semi-finals of the Poland Open.

Martic, who is the only seed left in this section of the draw, defeated Poland’s Maja Chwalinska, 6-3 3-6 6-3, while Baindl advanced after her opponent, Sara Errani, a former Rolland Garros finalist from Italy, retired mid-match with the former leading, 6-2, 3-0, because of a lower back injury.

Chwalinska had her chances against Martic, taking her defensive shot-making up a notch in the second set but the experienced Croatian survived the crisis, and made use of her bigger game to take the decider.

The last quarter-final is between Romania’s Ana Bogdan and Brazil’s Laura Pigossi.

The BNP Paribas Poland Open Centre Court is sold out when home favourite Iga Swiatek plays

BNP Paribas Open/Facebook

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