Tennis: Swiatek powers past Raducanu and into Indian Wells quarter-finals

Emma Raducanu (left) congratulates Iga Swiatek after the latter's win at to advance to the quarter-finals at Indian Wells. PHOTO: AFP

INDIAN WELLS – Iga Swiatek had a clear game plan on Tuesday as she continued her Indian Wells title defence with a 6-3, 6-1 victory over Emma Raducanu to set up a quarter-final against unseeded Romanian Sorana Cirstea.

“I always want to finish (points) as fast as possible if I have a chance, but I know that sometimes it’s not going to be possible here,” the Polish world No. 1 said.

“I’m sure that some of these shots would be winners in different conditions, but here the ball is bouncing and it’s slower.

“I’m always pretty good in defence. I knew that I can’t rush it and I must be patient, so I just stayed solid and I wanted to choose the right directions. It was more about that, not the speed and forcing everything to play a winner.”

The 21-year-old came under pressure early in the opening set but raised her level to break Raducanu before pulling away.

Having wrapped up the first set when her 20-year-old opponent sent a shot long from the baseline, she grabbed an early break in the second to heap the pressure on the Briton, whose unforced errors began to mount.

Swiatek, bidding to become only the second female player to successfully retain the Indian Wells title after Martina Navratilova in 1990-91, raced to a 5-1 lead playing flawless tennis and running her opponent ragged.

The reigning French and US Open champion closed out the win when Raducanu struck the net on serve in a tame end to her fine run in the Southern California desert.

“Overall I feel like physically she is much further ahead than I am at this moment,” Raducanu said.

“I think I was able to stay competitive in the beginning of the first set. And we were having some pretty epic rallies, and I actually think my defence got better.

“But that meant me running, and I think that she just kind of ground me down a bit.”

Earlier in the day, Coco Gauff rallied from a break down in the final set to beat Swede Rebecca Peterson 6-3, 1-6, 6-4 and reach the quarters for the first time.

Next up for her is a meeting with Belarusian second seed Aryna Sabalenka, who beat 16th seed Barbora Krejcikova 6-3, 2-6, 6-4.

Greek seventh seed Maria Sakkari outlasted big-serving Czech Karolina Pliskova 6-4, 5-7, 6-3 and will take on Czech 15th seed Petra Kvitova for a semi-final spot.

Two-time Wimbledon champion Kvitova saved four match points en route to a 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 (13-11) win over third-seeded American Jessica Pegula.

The 33-year-old said: “I had all these emotions, up and down all the match, it was a disaster at some point and then I was just making winners.

“I don’t know how many match points I was saving today – four? Oh! I don’t know how I did it.”

Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina beat Varvara Gracheva 6-3, 6-0 and will be up against Karolina Muchova, who overcame Marketa Vondrousova 6-4, 6-7 (2-7), 6-4. REUTERS

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