Australian Open: Swiatek seals semi-final spot after lengthy Kanepi battle

By Sports Desk January 26, 2022

Iga Swiatek came through a huge battle against Kaia Kanepi to advance to the Australian Open semi-finals on Wednesday.

Swiatek, the Polish seventh seed, made her second grand slam semi after a 4-6 7-6 (7-2) 6-3 victory over Kanepi on a warm day on Rod Laver Arena.

The 2020 French Open champion held off Kanepi, who suffered a seventh defeat in as many grand slam quarter-finals.

Swiatek fought hard and needed three hours, one minute to progress to a meeting with American 27th seed Danielle Collins.

The steadier start was made by Swiatek, with Kanepi saving break points in each of her opening three service games.

But the Pole was having some trouble with her serve, a fifth double fault giving Kanepi a break point in the seventh game, the Estonian converting with a fine forehand return winner.

Swiatek held after a gruelling 16-minute ninth game, saving four set points as the Rod Laver Arena crowd started to come to life.

Kanepi had won only one set in her six previous grand slam quarter-finals, but she eventually served out the opener against Swiatek, converting her ninth set point.

After Kanepi broke in the opening game of the second set, Swiatek – who was starting to move the veteran around the court – reeled off four straight games.

However, Kanepi responded, a pair of Swiatek double faults helping her break back in the seventh game on the way to a tie-break.

Swiatek was the more consistent of the two players in the tie-break to send the quarter-final into a deciding set.

After the players traded breaks early in the third set, Swiatek took a 3-2 lead after Kanepi sent a forehand narrowly wide before managing a tough hold in the sixth game.

Swiatek charged into a 5-2 lead and while her attempt at serving it out did not go to plan, she sealed her win with another break after a tremendous defensive point.

 

DATA SLAM: Swiatek hard to beat at majors

It takes a fair bit to beat Swiatek at a grand slam.

The 20-year-old is now 30-2 at majors against opponents ranked outside the top 30 after getting past world number 115 Kanepi.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Swiatek – 31/50
Kanepi – 35/62

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Swiatek – 5/12
Kanepi – 5/4

BREAK POINTS WON
Swiatek – 6/13
Kanepi – 5/13

Related items

  • Tsitsipas reaches first grass-court final, Fritz and Cressy set up all-American Eastbourne showdown Tsitsipas reaches first grass-court final, Fritz and Cressy set up all-American Eastbourne showdown

    Roberto Bautista Agut stands in the way of Stefanos Tsitsipas and his first grass-court title.

    Making his debut at the Mallorca Championships, Tsitsipas sealed his maiden appearance in a grass-court final by cruising past Benjamin Bonzi 6-4 6-4 on Friday.

    The world number six has now reached four finals this season, having lost two of the previous three – winning on clay at the Monte Carlo Masters.

    It was the second meeting between the pair in as many weeks, with the Greek having also downed Bonzi at the Halle Open.

    And Tsitsipas now has a chance to warm up for Wimbledon in winning fashion.

    "It was a good match. I am very happy today," Tsitsipas said in his on-court interview. "I have played a final a week before a grand slam before. It was the year I made the final at Roland Garros, in Lyon.

    "It worked out pretty well to have that final and consistency of matches. It is different this time. We are talking about a different surface, so we will see."

    Tsitsipas has now claimed a tour-leading 39 wins this season, but standing between the 23-year-old and silverware is Spaniard Bautista Agut, who reached a 20th career final by beating Antoine Bellier 7-6 (7-5) 6-2.

    Like Tsitsipas, Bautista Agut is aiming for a second title of the season.

    At the Eastbourne International, two Americans will vie for the title after Indian Wells Masters champion Taylor Fritz saw off a tough challenge from Alex de Minaur while Maxime Cressy defeated home favourite Jack Draper 7-6 (7-5) 6-7 (2-7) 6-3.

    Fritz, who triumphed at Eastbourne in 2019 – similarly against an American, in Sam Querrey – but has found his best form hard to come by of late, also needed three sets to get the better of De Minaur, eventually succeeding 6-1 6-7 (5-7) 6-3.

    "It's amazing," Fritz said. "I was having a bit of a rough start coming back from injury to the grass season, and then I came here and the first day I was here I just immediately felt like I was playing good tennis again.

    "I just have a lot of confidence being here, obviously great memories, so I'm really excited to come back out and play for the title again."

  • Aaron Judge, Yankees agree on $19m salary for 2022 Aaron Judge, Yankees agree on $19m salary for 2022

    The New York Yankees and star slugger Aaron Judge agreed to a one-year, $19million contract just hours before the two sides were scheduled for an arbitration hearing on Friday.

    The deal represents a compromise between Judge, who is in his final year of arbitration eligibility, and the Yankees.

    The three-time All-Star's representatives had been seeking a $21m salary for this season, while New York countered with a $17m offer.

    Judge can also earn an additional $250,000 if he wins the American League MVP award and another $250,000 if named MVP of the World Series. 

    The 30-year-old has emerged as an early MVP frontrunner as the leader of a Yankees team who own the majors' best record at 52-18.

    Judge's 27 homers in 2022 are five more than any player, and he is batting a career-best .304 through 68 games. He also ranks third in the majors in OPS (1.037) and third in the AL with 53 RBIs.

    Judge reportedly turned down a seven-year, $213.5m extension offer from the Yankees during spring training, and the six-foot-seven outfielder's stellar start to 2022 likely has him in line for a more lucrative payday when he reaches free agency in the offseason. 

    Those 2022 numbers would not have impacted Judge's arbitration case, however, as any statistics after March 1 are not admissible per the agreement between MLB and the players' association that ended this past offseason's lockout.

  • Salvador Perez to have thumb surgery, expected back this season Salvador Perez to have thumb surgery, expected back this season

    Catcher Salvador Perez will undergo surgery to repair a damaged ulnar collateral ligament in his left thumb, the Kansas City Royals announced on Friday.

    The procedure will sideline Perez for an extended period, although the Royals said in a statement that the seven-time All-Star is expected to return this season.

    Perez, whose 48 home runs in 2021 tied Toronto's Vladimir Guerrero for the major league lead, initially injured his thumb while swinging in mid-May.

    He returned on May 28 but aggravated the injury while catching in Kansas City's win over the Los Angeles Angels on Tuesday. 

    The 32-year-old leads the Royals with 11 homers this season while adding 34 RBIs in 57 games, although his .211 average and .254 on-base percentage are the lowest marks of his 11-year MLB career.

    Perez earned his fourth career Silver Slugger Award in 2021 after tying a Royals season record for home runs and leading the majors with 121 RBIs. The veteran is also a five-time Gold Glove Award winner at catcher.

    Perez's absence will allow the Royals to give an extended look to rookie MJ Melendez behind the plate.

    The 23-year-old Melendez, who entered the season as MLB.com's number 51 overall prospect, led the minor leagues with 41 homers in 2021 while splitting the season between Double and Triple A.

    Melendez has hit .234 with six homers and 17 RBIs in 45 games with Kansas City since being called up in early May. 

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.