Friday, March 18, 2022 - Iga Swiatek plays against Simona Halep in semifinals of the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, California. (Jared Wickerham/BNP Paribas Open)
It marked Swiatek’s 10th straight win and her tour-leading 18th overall in 2022. On Sunday, the Doha titlist will go for her second trophy of the year when she faces either defending champion Paula Badosa or No. 6 seed Maria Sakkari.
“In all my previous matches against Simona, I always felt like I had nothing to lose,” said Swiatek, who came into the match 1-2 against the Romanian, her most recent loss coming in the Round of 16 at the 2021 Australian Open. “I was never the favorite. In this one, I felt like my ranking is higher and, obviously, I’ve been playing well. I had to adjust to this different mindset and different mood when I was going on court.”
“It was stressful, for sure, but I wanted to fight until the end and be mentally stronger because she’s not giving up. I’m pretty proud that I did that.”
Both players had their chances in a seesaw opening set, which would feature a combined four service breaks and come down to a tiebreak. Once there, Swiatek, 20, saved two set points to steal the set, leaving her opponent to pulverize her racquet in frustration.
Swiatek, who last month claimed the WTA 1000 event in Doha, rallied from a set down to defeat Anhelina Kalinina, Clara Tauson and Angelique Kerber en route to the semifinals, but would need only two sets this time around. She broke for 5-4 in the second set, and subsequently served out the match in one hour and 49 minutes.
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Swiatek becomes the first Polish woman to reach the BNP Paribas Open final since 2014, when countrywoman Agnieszka Radwanska fell to Italy’s Flavia Pennetta, 6-1, 6-1. Swiatek’s new coach, Tomasz Witkorowski, formerly worked with Radwanska.
“We had some players on tour saying that they’re glad she’s not playing anymore because her tennis was always so difficult for them,” said Swiatek. “We have different styles, but it for sure would be harder to believe that I would make it when I was a kid if it wasn’t for her, because she was kind of the one who made that path first.”
Halep was appearing in her fourth semifinal in Indian Wells.