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Women’s Quarterfinals: Coco Fights Through; Swiatek, Sakkari Advance
3 Min Read · March 14, 2024

Two days after her twentieth birthday, Coco Gauff’s new decade is looking a lot like her teen years. The wins flow like her effortless backhand strikes. 

It wasn’t the picture-perfect tennis that the American is capable of producing, but the end result of Thursday’s quarterfinal was just as gorgeous. 

Gauff’s 6-4, 6-3 victory over No.49-ranked Yue Yuan of China featured 17 double-faults from the No.3-seeded American, but more importantly, it featured tons of grit, plenty of timely strikes, and a purple patch that took her through the final five games on the trot. 

In the end it was the 2023 US Open champion who emerged as the youngest American woman to reach the last four in the California desert in 23 years. 

Into the BNP Paribas Open semifinals for the first time on her fourth career appearance, Gauff stays alive in her bid to become the first American woman to win the Indian Wells title since Serena Williams in 2001. She will take on two-time Indian Wells semifinalist Maria Sakkari in the semifinals on Friday at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. 

Yuan, fresh off her maiden title at Austin last month, entered Thursday's tilt in Stadium 2 riding a personal-best nine-match winning streak. Her well-balanced attack posed problems for Gauff from start to finish, but the 25-year-old ran out of steam down the stretch as Gauff erased a 3-1 deficit in the second set to lock up victory in one hour and 35 minutes. 

Gauff improves to 16-3 on the season – after dropping the opening set of her second-round match to Clara Burel, she has won the next eight sets she has played.

Swiatek into Third Straight Semi as Wozniacki's Comeback Bid Cut Short

The last time Iga Swiatek and Caroline Wozniacki locked horns in 2019 at Toronto, the Pole was a fresh-faced 18-year-old, ranked No. 65, while Wozniacki was a recently crowned Grand Slam champion and a former World No. 1. 

Nearly five years later things have changed considerably. 

It is four-time Grand Slam champion Swiatek who now sits atop the WTA rankings, while Wozniacki, now 33, is ranked No. 204 and working her way back into peak shape after a three and a half year absence and the birth of her two children. 

Their opposing career arcs were front and center on Stadium 1 as Swiatek enticed Wozniacki into a physical battle in the opening set and eventually advanced when the Dane was forced to retire due to a foot injury, 6-4, 1-0 RET. 

“I have huge respect for her,” Swiatek said after the contest. “I’m sad that it had to finish that way, but I hope she is going to recover and be ready for Miami.” 

With the victory, Swiatek reaches her third consecutive BNP Paribas Open semifinal and joins three legends in the Indian Wells record books, as only Lindsay Davenport, Martina Hingis and Maria Sharapova had previously achieved the feat. 

Despite the difficult ending, Wozniacki has much to be excited about.

The 2011 BNP Paribas Open champion, making her first appearance in the California desert since 2019, battled tooth-and-nail with Swiatek in the opening set, and even led by a break for a spell, at 4-1. 

But Swiatek gradually took over, reeling off the final five games of the set, and as she bounced out of her chair for the second set just as Wozniacki had completed her medical timeout to have her injured toe looked at, the writing was on the wall. 

Wozniacki, who notched four consecutive wins for the first time since her comeback started last August, was playing her first quarterfinal on the WTA Tour since 2020. She may have come too far too fast this week, but the future of her comeback looks bright. 

As for Swiatek, the 2022 BNP Paribas Open champion will bid for her second BNP Paribas Open final on Friday when she meets Ukraine’s Marta Kostyuk in the semifinals. 

The Polish juggernaut improves to 16-2 lifetime at Indian Wells and 18-2 for the 2024 season with the win.

Stone Cold Sakkari Stops Navarro’s Run 

Sakkari battled past Emma Navarro in chilly conditions on Stadium 2, edging the rising American in a two hour and 54-minute tussle, 5-7, 6-2, 6-4, to reach the semifinals at Indian Wells for the third year running. 

“That was the toughest match I’ve played in a while,” Sakkari said. “Emma, she’s an incredible player. She has been playing amazing and it’s a huge win for me – I’m just very happy that I found a way to win this match today.” 

Sakkari, who will face Gauff for a spot in the final, has won seven of her last ten three-setters. 

“It’s a very tough tournament, I’ve played against some incredible opponents this week,” Sakkari said. “Here we are, one more day in paradise, I feel like I’m playing great tennis again, after a while – I’m just very happy that I’m finding ways to win these matches.” 

22-year-old Navarro, playing in her first Indian Wells quarterfinal, was bidding for her second Top 10 win of the tournament, after upsetting No.2-ranked Aryna Sabalenka in the round of 16. 

No.9-seeded Sakkari, the 2022 BNP Paribas runner-up, is into her tenth career WTA 1000 semifinal. 

Marta Kostyuk Breaks New Ground In Tennis Paradise

Since the level was introduced in 2009, 99 players have reached the semifinal stage at WTA 1000 events. Make it 100 now…

Ukraine’s Marta Kostyuk battled past Anastasia Potapova on a blustery Thursday at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, locking down a 6-0, 7-5 victory to reach her first BNP Paribas Open semifinal. 

“It feels very surreal,” said the Ukrainian of reaching her first 1000-level semifinal and improving to 15-5 on the season. “If someone told us two or three weeks ago that I would be in the semifinal here I would never have believed it.” 

It was a match in which the conditions had considerable impact on the tennis, with both players struggling to master the tricky wind. 

“Whoever watches Suits knows that Harvey Specter said ‘I don’t play the odds, I play the man,’” Kostyuk said, referring to the main character of the USA legal drama, and adding: “Today I was not playing the man, I was playing the wind.”

Kostyuk was also playing against demons, having lost her two previous meetings against Potapova. The Ukrainian may have asked for a blanket at the changeover (she settled for several towels), but Kostyuk’s tennis was hot from the start against Potapova, who was colder than a Minnesota winter in the early going. 

Kostyuk cruised through the opening set, winning nine of the final ten points to wrap up the 6-0 set in 25 minutes. The shutout marked the first time a WTA player has bageled an opponent in the first set of an Indian Wells quarterfinal since 2019, when eventual champion Bianca Andreescu defeated Garbine Muguruza, 6-0, 6-1. 

Down 6-0, 3-0 thirty-three minutes into the match, the No.28 seed finally got on the board with a hold in the tenth game that drew a hearty applause from the Stadium 1 faithful. It was just the beginning of her push. 

Potapova then quickly broke back, taking advantage of two Kostyuk double-faults, to get back on serve as she reeled off ten consecutive points. 

The pendulum rocked back and forth from there, swinging in 22-year-old Potapova’s favor, and three games later a streak of five consecutive breaks ended with a rocketed Potapova forehand winner to level the second set level at 5-all. 

But Kostyuk would rise to the challenge and finish what she started.  Moments later she concluded the wild encounter as she converted her second match point at the 69-minute mark. The 21-year-old dropped her racquet and put her hands to her head, relieved to have quelled Potapova’s furious rally.

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