Swiatek, Pegula, Collins, Vekic advance to San Diego semifinals


Friday at the WTA 500 San Diego Open was all about quarterfinal matches and the last four women standing at the WTA 500 event in California are Iga Swiatek, Jessica Pegula, Danielle Collins and Donna Vekic.

Iga Swiatek vs. Coco Gauff quarterfinal

World No.1 Iga Swiatek reached the semifinal with a swift 6-0 6-3 victory over Coco Gauff. In front of a full stadium that felt as though it may have had more Polish fans than American, Swiatek did not let her focus drop for a moment.

Everything clicked for Swiatek. The top seed told the media, “I think it was one of these matches where I felt like I have everything under control and I felt the rhythm pretty well.” Summing it up simply, Swiatek added, “today was just a great day in the office.”

Down but not out, Gauff is not leaving San Diego yet. Together with Jessica Pegula, the American will play the doubles semifinals Saturday. That match is scheduled for after Pegula’s singles semifinal against Swiatek.

Jessica Pegula vs. Madison Keys quarterfinal

Jessica Pegula advanced with a 6-4 7-5 victory over Billie Jean King Cup teammate Madison Keys. Pegula explained her winning strategy to media: “I was just trying to neutralize her serve as much as possible. I thought I returned really well and put pressure on her there.”

Heading into the semifinal against Swiatek, Pegula is ready to move forward and put pressure on her opponent, something she admits is easier said than done. With a defensive player like Swiatek, she said, “you always expect that extra ball to come back […] I’m gonna have to play aggressive and move forward a lot especially with these balls; they get a little heavy so I feel like you can’t really hit through the court as much.”

This will be their fifth encounter, Swiatek won the last three.

Danielle Collins vs. Paula Badosa quarterfinal

Danielle Collins advanced with a 7-6(5) 6-4 victory over second seed Paula Badosa in a two-hour thriller that had audiences captivated until the last point. In a late second set moment of great frustration, Badosa sent her racket sliding across the court as she sat down by the baseline. She incurred a warning from the chair umpire, but rode that energy to win the next game; however, she failed to break Collins at 5-4.

Collins told the media that she herself thought the match could have gone another way with the high level of tennis Badosa was playing. Referring to a netcord winner she said, “I had some really lucky moments in the tiebreak and she played really well and I think she got unlucky a few times here and there trying to convert.” The world No.19 Collins did receive a medical timeout for treatment on an ongoing disc issue in her neck that she said later was flaring up. The pain comes and goes, so it is unclear how that may factor into the next matches.

Donna Vekic vs. Aryna Sabalenka quarterfinal

Donna Vekic defeated third seed Aryna Sabalenka 6-4 6-7(5) 6-1. Vekic, a former Top 20 player who dropped to No.77 this year, started the tournament in qualifying and fought her way through Maria Sakkari and Karolina Pliskova to get to Sabalenka, whom she had a 4:1 record against. Sabalenka did struggle at one point and received medical timeout for treatment of an issue with her right calf.

Mentally, Vekic has shown great strength against her much higher ranked opponents. “I’m enjoying my time on court and really fighting and leaving everything out there. Also, I’m definitely believing in myself this week more than in the last couple of weeks and months.” The healthy and confident Vekic is playing well above her rank and will prove a real challenge for Collins.

Collins expressed joy that Donna Vekic was playing well and back to full health at the end of a difficult year. They played once at the 2018 Miami Open, which Collins won in three sets. Collins said, “We’ve both got aggressive game styles and we’ll fight till the end, so it’s gonna be another tough battle.”


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