Wednesday, March 16, 2022 - Simona Halep plays against Petra Martic in the quarterfinals of the BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, California. (Jared Wickerham/BNP Paribas Open)
No. 24 seed Simona Halep of Romania is into the BNP Paribas Open semifinals for the fourth time in her career, a 6-1, 6-1 winner over Croatia’s Petra Martic on Thursday at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.
It marked a rematch of their 2018 quarterfinal, also won by Halep, 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-3.
The 2015 titlist wasted little time asserting herself against her 79th-ranked opponent in Stadium 1, sealing the opening set in a mere 24 minutes, landing 13 of 14 first serves (92 percent) and winning all but one of those points. The 30-year-old has now won a tour-best 13 matches in straight sets in 2022.
“I feel like I played my best tennis so far this year,” said Halep, who closed it out at the 53-minute mark. “I knew it was going to be a tough match against her. The one in 2018 was a longer match and was much more difficult. But today I felt great. I’ve been on a mission. I just wanted to be focused on what I had to do.”
Martic, who upset reigning US Open champion Emma Raducanu in the third round, came into the match with a tournament-standard 20 aces across four matches, but was limited to just one on the afternoon.
“When I entered the court, I said my return has to be strong because she has a huge serve with a kick,” said Halep. “At my height [5-foot-6], it’s not easy to return. But did it pretty well today. I just practiced it a little bit more yesterday and this morning.”
Swiatek Follows Suit; Sets Semifinal Showdown
Halep’s next opponent, No. 3 seed Iga Swiatek of Poland, followed her cue, racing past No. 25 seed Madison Keys of the U.S. in her quarterfinal, 6-1, 6-0, in 56 minutes.
After dropping the opening set of her last two matches, Swiatek pulled through in straight sets.
“I was getting tired a little bit, so I wanted to make it quick,” said the 20-year-old Pole. “Madison played a great tournament. Her whole season is pretty great. I didn’t really know if I was going to be able to push back her speed, because she can play pretty fast. I wanted to stay low on my legs and control it a little more.”
The victory was Swiatek’s 18th of the season, tops on the WTA Tour.
Swiatek topped Halep en route to her Roland Garros title in 2020, but trails 2-1 in career head-to-heads.
“She’s playing some good tennis right now,” said Swiatek. She’s really consistent. I don’t know how many unforced errors she had today, but probably less than 10. She’s in great shape. It’s going to be a tough match — it’s always like that against Simona. For me, it’s going to be a test. I can see how much I’ve improved, because I feel like my tennis is changing.”
“Tough, tough match, because she’s playing the best tennis of her life,” countered Halep. “She’s in the best moment. I expect a really tough one. But I’m here in the semifinal, so I’ll take that. I’ll just try my best.”