Tennis: Swiatek, Pegula into US Open quarter-finals

Iga Swiatek celebrates after defeating Jule Niemeier, on Sept 5, 2022. PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK - World number one Iga Swiatek became the first Polish woman to reach the US Open quarter-finals on Monday when she defeated Jule Niemeier in an error-strewn last-16 clash.

French Open champion Swiatek recovered from a set and a break down to see off her 108th-ranked German opponent, 2-6, 6-4, 6-0. Top seeded Swiatek will face US eighth seed Jessica Pegula for a place in the semi-finals.

In a mistake-riddled clash on Louis Armstrong Court, there were a total of 15 double faults, 12 breaks of serve and 76 unforced errors.

"It's really satisfying. This is my first quarter-final in New York so I am really proud of it," said Swiatek.

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Wimbledon quarter-finalist Niemeier hadn't won a hardcourt match in her career before coming to New York. However, she went into Monday's match not having dropped a set and fired up to repeat her Wimbledon journey where she had also beaten world number two Anett Kontaveit.

The 23-year-old from Dortmund swept through the opener with breaks in the first and seventh games. She held her nerve in an eight-minute second game of the second set, saving two break points.

Niemeier sensed a shock victory when she broke for 2-1 but Swiatek eventually prevailed, taking a set which featured seven breaks of serve in 10 games.

In the decider, the Pole raced to a 4-0 lead with the powerfully-built Niemeier only winning five points. Moments later Swiatek completed victory with her 19th 'bagel' set of the season to wrap up a place in a third Grand Slam quarter-final of 2022.

Swiatek said her success in 2022 has been helped by her rigid loyalty to her walk-on play list which includes AC/DC, Led Zeppelin and Pearl Jam. "I have been listening to it all year and I am pretty bored with it," she said. "But I am not going to change now."

Meanwhile Jessica Pegula became the second American woman into this year's US Open quarter-finals after brushing aside two-time Grand Slam champion Petra Kvitova in straight sets on Monday.

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The 28-year-old eighth seed shrugged off a rain delay on the Arthur Ashe Stadium court to win 6-3, 6-2.

Pegula, whose parents are the billionaire owners of the Buffalo Bills NFL franchise, was always in control against out-of-sorts Czech veteran Kvitova, who had taken down Spain's Garbine Muguruza in the third round. Pegula scored a break to go 4-3 up in the first set following the rain delay and then held for a 5-3 lead before breaking again for 6-3.

Kvitova appeared to raise her game in the second set and broke immediately before holding for a 2-0 lead. But Kvitova's game disintegrated thereafter - the Czech made 24 unforced errors in total - and Pegula reeled off six straight games to take the second set, clinching the match when Kvitova yanked a wild return wide.

Pegula has reached quarter-finals at the Australian Open and French Open this season but had never gone further than the third round in five previous appearances at the US Open.

She joins fellow American Coco Gauff in the last eight while compatriot Danielle Collins can join them when she faces Aryna Sabalenka later Monday. AFP

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