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World No. 1 Swiatek to face Gauff in San Diego Quarterfinals

World No. 1 Iga Swiatek will face Coco Gauff in a Roland Garros final rematch at the San Diego Open on Friday. Photo credit: San Diego Open

By Richard Osborn

SAN DIEGO (October 13, 2022) —
 Iga Swiatek has accomplished much in 2022: 28 weeks atop the WTA rankings, a tour-leading and career-best 61 match wins and seven tournament titles, Grand Slam triumphs in Paris and Flushing Meadows, etc., etc.

Asked this week which of her feats she is most proud of, the 21-year-old Pole paused for more than a few beats to consider her options. There was just so much to choose from.

Eventually, she settled upon an answer: “I would say that I managed to have that balance between all these matches and all these challenges and also being happy and not feeling overwhelmed.”

That kind of perspective (in addition to the all-court/all-surface athleticism and match-to-match steadiness) should benefit the Warsaw native for years to come. Swiatek looked anything but overwhelmed on a rain-delayed Thursday at Barnes Tennis Center, where, in her San Diego Open WTA 500 debut, she held off a challenge from 28th-ranked Qinwen Zheng of China, advancing to the quarterfinals with a 6-4, 4-6, 6-1 win.

It marked the second time this year that the lucky loser Zheng extended the world No. 1 to three sets. Swiatek also prevailed en route to the Roland Garros title, winning 6-7 (5), 6-0, 6-2 in the Round of 16.

“She has a different game style because she is playing topspin on her forehand and the ball is flying pretty high,” said Swiatek. “Today I needed to adjust to that. This tournament, the draw is so good. I wasn’t expecting any easy matches.”

With backing from a small but vociferous group of red-and-white flag-wavers, several of them draped in POLSKA scarfs and T-shirts, Swiatek improved to 21-1 on U.S. soil in 2022, having collected trophies at Indian Wells and the US Open.  

“It’s pretty amazing. I wasn’t expecting to have this kind of season this year,” she said. “I thought maybe I would be at my peak when I was 24, 25, and had more experience. I’m pretty happy that I’m able to give my all right now, to be in that place. My dreams are coming true.”

Zheng, a career-high No. 28 on the heels of reaching her first WTA final in Tokyo, registered nine aces and saved eight of the 12 break-points she faced, but it was not enough against the streaking Swiatek.

Coco Gauff in action. Photo credit: San Diego Open

Next up for Swiatek is a familiar opponent in sixth seed Coco Gauff, who advanced with a thrilling two-and-a-half-hour, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 win over 2019 US Open champion Bianca Andreescu of Canada.

“Today was just a tight match. I think every game mattered,” said Gauff, who won 41 of 49 first-serve points (83 percent).  “Bianca played great. I knew coming in that she was going to be fighting until the last point. That’s what she did.”

Gauff, 18, has now reached at least the quarterfinals in five of her last seven tournaments dating back to her runner-up finish at Roland Garros. Ironically, that’s where she last faced Swiatek, falling 6-1, 6-3 in the title match.

“The level’s going to be great. Iga is a champion,” said Gauff. “It’s going to be an opportunity to see if I improved since the last time.”

Things looked bleak early on for Madison Keys against eighth seed Daria Kasatkina. But the 27-year-old turned things around in a hurry, erasing a 0-4 first set deficit to prevail, 6-4, 6-3, winning 12 of the last 15 games. The comeback set up a quarterfinal with the top-ranked American woman, fourth seed Jessica Pegula.

The 18th-ranked Keys has now defeated Kasatkina eight times in nine career head-to-heads, her most wins against any single opponent on the tour.

Third seed Aryna Sabalenka improved to a perfect 3-0 against American Sloane Stephens, roaring back from a set down to advance, 1-6, 6-3, 6-2. She will face qualifier Donna Vekic of Croatia in her eighth quarterfinal of the season.


When American No. 1 Jessica Pegula takes the court on Friday for her San Diego Open quarterfinal against countrywoman Madison Keys, she’ll likely feel a whole lot lighter, having already clinched qualification for the upcoming WTA Finals in Fort Worth. Now she can let go of the pressure.

“I’m really excited to play the year-end Finals,” said Pegula, currently ranked No. 6. “It’s always been a goal. I don’t know if it was the main goal at the beginning of the year, but as the year went on, I think it was definitely something we were working toward.”

Even in the midst of a breakout year, one that has seen her reach the biggest final of her career (Madrid) and notch a pair of semifinals at the WTA 1000 level (Miami, Toronto), the David Witt-coached New Yorker says she’s still honing her craft.

“I’m always working on my serve, because that’s something you can control right off the bat. I’m always trying to stay healthy and get my movement a little bit better, because I’m not naturally super quick and athletic,” she explained. “I’m a little bit more measured. It’s my timing that I’m really good at. I’m still trying to move forward and be aggressive when I can. Sometime it’s hard because you want to be steady, but at the same time you want to put pressure on your opponent.”

San Diego Open WTA 500
Barnes Tennis Center

Results — Thursday, October 13

R16 – [1] I. Swiatek (POL) d. [LL] Q. Zheng (CHN) 64 46 61
R16 – [6] C. Gauff (USA) d. B. Andreescu (CAN) 64 46 63
R16 – M. Keys (USA) d. [8] D. Kasatkina 64 63
R16 – [3] A. Sabalenka d. [WC] S. Stephens (USA) 16 63 62
R16 – [2] P. Badosa (ESP) d. [Q] L. Chirico (USA) 60 63
QF – [1] C. Gauff (USA) / J. Pegula (USA) d. S. Kenin (USA) / L. Samsonova 62 76(3)
QF – [2] G. Dabrowski (CAN) / G. Olmos (MEX) d. H. Chan (TPE) / L. Hradecka (CZE) 75 46 10-7