As the Internazionali BNL d’Italia quarterfinal progressed past midnight and moved towards the deciding set, two-time defending champion Iga Swiatek suffered a right thigh injury which forced her to retire and allow Elena Rybakina to move into the final four, 2-6 7-6(3) 2-2.
The world No.1 Swiatek dominated the quarterfinal in the beginning, surging to a commanding 4-0 lead and effortlessly claiming the first set without ever being threatened on her serve. The seventh-seeded Rybakina dropped serve at the start of the second set and seemed to be on a steady road to exit the WTA 1000 tournament in Rome.
A shift in momentum occurred midway through the second set, as Swiatek’s energy waned, and Rybakina seized the moment, capitalizing on the opportunity to equalize the score at 4-4. Despite facing three break points from Swiatek, Rybakina displayed tenacity and resilience, managing to hold her serve and keep the set on an even keel. Swiatek, refusing to be deterred, responded with a flawless love hold, bringing the score to an intense 5-5. As the match grew more suspenseful, both players engaged in a series of nerve-wracking games, ultimately leading to a tiebreak as the clock approached midnight.
In the tiebreak, Rybakina displayed greater confidence and managed to disrupt Swiatek’s game, putting pressure on the Polish player. Adding to the tension, Swiatek experienced a right thigh injury on the penultimate point of the tiebreak. After conceding the second set on her opponent’s first set point, Swiatek took a medical timeout, played four more games in the decider and eventually retired.
Rybakina’s semifinal opponent will be Jelena Ostapenko, who fought past Paula Badosa 6-2 4-6 6-3 earlier on Wednesday. The other semifinal in Rome will be contested between Veronika Kudermetova and Anhelina Kalinina.