World number one Iga Swiatek overcame a shaky serving performance to beat American Jessica Pegula 6-3 7-6(4) on Wednesday and reach the semi-finals of the U.S. Open for the first time. The top-seeded French Open champion dropped her racket and pumped her fist after the win, which guaranteed that she will remain the world’s top player when the tournament ends.
“I wasn’t expecting this at the beginning of the tournament,” Swiatek said in an on-court interview. “I’m really working hard and trying to keep my expectations low. Today was such a tough match and I think the level was great, so I’m pretty happy that I handled it.”
Despite the victory the Pole is still trying to regain her dominant form from earlier in the year when she went on a 37-match winning streak. The 21-year-old twice failed to serve out the match in the second set and was broken six times by the eighth-seeded Pegula, who saw her own serve broken seven times.
“I knew even though I’m breaking her that it’s not like in men’s matches where they are going to finish with their serve,” said Swiatek. “I know that. So I was trying to push her back but she’s really good at receiving so she put pressure on me, which is why it ended up in a tiebreaker.”
Swiatek will meet Aryna Sabalenka in the semi-finals. She holds a 3-1 record against the powerful Belarusian. “It’s going to be tough even though I won the last couple of matches against her,” she said.
“I know she’s in great shape so I have to be ready for fast serves for sure and for some heavy hitting but I feel like I experienced that today as well with Jessie, flat ball, I’m going to be ready.” Pegula’s defeat ended any hope of an American woman winning the tournament in New York, with 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams expected to head into retirement after her third-round loss last week.
“It was really fun when I kept breaking back and I wanted to give them a third set but it wasn’t to be,” Pegula said.
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