Top seed Swiatek ousts Rybakina, sets semifinal clash with Sakkari in Ostrava

No.1 seed Iga Swiatek and No.4 seed Maria Sakkari claimed their allotted spots within the J&T Banka Ostrava Open semifinals on Friday, setting a remaining 4 showdown between the 2 in Ostrava.

High seed Swiatek of Poland defeated No.7 seed Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan, 7-6(5), 6-2, to guide her place within the semifinals. Within the first assembly between the High 20 gamers, Swiatek wanted an hour and 41 minutes to carry off the problem from Rybakina and make her first semifinal since her title run at Rome in early Could.

Stat nook: Swiatek was stellar behind her first serve, successful over three-quarters of these factors, however much less so on her second serve, the place Rybakina took cost and claimed 61 p.c of factors. In the end, Swiatek was capable of get a powerful 72 p.c of first serves into play, serving to her alongside to victory.

Key moments: In an aggressive tussle, it was Swiatek who grabbed the early 3-1 lead earlier than Rybakina gritted out a difficult service break with a rally crosscourt backhand to degree the opening set at 3-3. Swiatek, although, stored the Kazakh at bay with highly effective groundstrokes from either side, and a straightforward maintain for 6-6 by the Pole arrange a first-set tiebreak.

Robust serving by each gamers stored the breaker aggressive, with Swiatek claiming the primary set level at 6-5 after consecutive unreturned deliveries. The highest seed transformed that probability, staying sturdy by a prolonged rally till Rybakina despatched a backhand miscue huge. Regardless of having fewer winners than Rybakina and an equal quantity of unforced errors, Swiatek swiped the set.

With the momentum behind her, Swiatek charged forward 5-1 within the second set, though Rybakina clawed one break again in that sport, edging to 5-2 with a backhand winner down the road on break level. However the massive Swiatek forehands got here out in power within the subsequent sport, and he or she prevailed in a protracted battle to transform her third match level in that sport.

Earlier, No.4 seed Sakkari booked a spot in her sixth semifinal of the season, and second straight on the J&T Banka Ostrava Open, with a 7-5, 6-3 win over wildcard Tereza Martincova in a single hour and 36 minutes.

Sakkari had gained each of her earlier encounters with Martincova in three units, 7-5, 1-6, 6-1 in a Santa Margherita di Pula ITF W25 occasion in 2015 and 3-6, 7-6(5), 6-0 within the third spherical of Doha 2020. However regardless of failing to serve out the opening set on the first time of asking over the Czech, who was taking part in her first WTA 500 quarterfinal, Sakkari maintained her management to take her head-to-head result in 3-0.

Keys to the match: The serve has been the bedrock of Sakkari’s sport in 2021, and has seen the Greek surge to a career-best 12 months: she now sits at a profession excessive rating of World No.12 having compiled a 33-15 win-loss file, together with two Grand Slam semifinal runs. It was essential once more on a day when Sakkari dedicated 29 unforced errors off the bottom. Regardless that she landed simply 63% of her first serves, the efficacy of her supply was such that she confronted break factors in just one sport.

That got here when she was damaged at 5-4 within the first set. However consistent with the entire match, Sakkari was capable of stop Martincova from gaining any momentum. All through, Sakkari was each clutch and tactically conscious. Martincova had spent almost five-and-a-half hours on courtroom over her earlier two rounds, and gave the impression to be tiring in the beginning of the second set. Sakkari responded with a succession of ruthless successful dropshots.

What’s subsequent for Sakkari: The semifinals are a well-recognized spherical for Sakkari, a measure of her spectacular consistency this 12 months. However when she takes on No.1 seed Swiatek on Saturday, she can be searching for to snap an undesirable streak. Sakkari has misplaced all 5 semifinals she has performed in 2021 to this point – and certainly 9 in a row, courting again to her solely profession title at Rabat 2019.

Maria Sakkari’s final 10 semifinal matches
Rabat 2019, d. Alison Van Uytvanck 6-4, 6-4
Rome 2019, l. Karolina Pliskova 6-4, 6-4
San Jose 2019, l. Zheng Saisai 7-6(5), 6-2
St. Petersburg 2020, l. Elena Rybakina 3-6, 7-5, 6-1
Ostrava 2020, l. Victoria Azarenka 6-1, 6-3
Abu Dhabi 2021, l. Aryna Sabalenka 6-3, 6-2
Grampians Trophy 2021, l. Anett Kontaveit 2-6, 6-3, [11-9]
Miami 2021, l. Bianca Andreescu 7-6(7), 3-6, 7-6(4)
Roland Garros 2021, l. Barbora Krejcikova 7-5, 4-6, 9-7
US Open 2021, l. Emma Raducanu 6-1, 6-4

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