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Women's Semifinal Preview: Gauff, Swiatek, Sakkari, Kostyuk Have Eyes On the Prize
3 Min Read · March 15, 2024

Star power is on display in the women’s semifinals at the BNP Paribas Open on Friday. Two Grand Slam winners, an Indian Wells stalwart and a Grand Slam junior champion are all on show.

[1] Iga Swiatek vs Marta Kostyuk [31]
Head-to-Head: Swiatek Leads 1-0

Iga Swiatek and Marta Kostyuk both made substantial headlines as teens. Swiatek won junior Wimbledon at the age of 17 and two years later bagged her first senior Grand Slam title at the French Open. Kostyuk, meanwhile, landed the Australian Open junior title at 14, giving her the honor of becoming the second-youngest winner in tournament history behind the still-going Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. Getting a wild card to the big show the next season in Melbourne, Kostyuk made more history as the youngest female to reach the third round at a major in 21 years. 

Kostyuk admitted to struggling with expectations, seeing others around her age group move up quicker and injuries. 

But the Ukrainian with the varied game is now hitting her stride in 2024, reaching a maiden Grand Slam quarterfinal at the Australian Open, the biggest final of her career in San Diego and now a first WTA 1000 quarterfinal and semifinal in the desert. 

“I was not expecting anything definitely, because I had a lot of seasons on tour, and to be honest, they were not going the way I would want them to go most of the time,” Kostyuk, struck down by an illness last month, said after her quarterfinal win over Anastasia Potapova. "I kept on working all these years and hoping that some day it will actually align. So it did, and I'm very happy with the people I'm surrounded with right now."

Kostyuk — who got married in the off-season — has only faced Swiatek once. It came at the Pole’s stronghold of Roland Garros in 2021. 

“It was a bit different match,” she said. “We were both in different positions. Even more exciting now.”

Swiatek knows what it feels like to win in Indian Wells, taking the crown in 2022 as part of a 37-match winning streak. She didn’t need to play two full sets on Thursday, advancing when the comeback Dane with the Polish roots, Caroline Wozniacki, retired trailing 6-4, 1-0. 

“Marta, she's a great player,” said Swiatek. “It's not going to be easy.” 

[3] Coco Gauff vs Maria Sakkari [9]
Head-to-Head: Gauff Leads 4-3

Has Coco Gauff’s stay in Indian Wells been eventful? You could say that. Let’s see here…Gauff started by rallying from a set and break down and 4-0 in the third set against Clara Burel. In her second match, Gauff — who was an accomplished teen herself — saved the first nine break points against Lucia Bronzetti. After dropping only two games on her twentieth birthday against a player who has tested her in the past in Elise Mertens, the US Open winner hit 17 double faults Thursday against Yuan Yue.

But yes, the well-spoken Floridian continues to win.

“I definitely think it's one of those matches I could have lost, and I have lost before in the past,” said Gauff, who now will compete in a first Indian Wells semifinal. “I think for me the difference is that I know if one part of my game is off, I have a lot of other tools I can rely on.

“I pretty much just relied on me just out-rallying her and being aggressive. I think a lot of break points that were saved were off of, at least in that second set…forehand winners.”

Gauff overcame Maria Sakkari in both their outings last year. They weren’t in Indian Wells, though, where the Greek has now made two semifinals and a final in her past three trips.

This time, it’s with new coach David Witt, who formerly guided Venus Williams and Jessica Pegula.

“He's just very relaxed and very laid back,” said Sakkari earlier in the week. “That’s what I need, because I'm very hard on myself. So I just need someone that doesn't stress me, and that's what David does really well. Obviously has incredible experience on the tennis side. He's so funny that I just enjoy my time with him on and off the court.”

Sakkari put in the miles in the quarterfinals to beat South Carolina’s fast-rising Emma Navarro, prevailing 5-7, 6-2, 6-4 in nearly three hours in the night session. Sakkari was stretched to nine and 10 deuces on serve in two separate games in the second set. The World No. 9 won them both — and the match.

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