Indian Wells: Swiatek holds off Andreescu, to face Raducanu in Round of 16

by IANS |

Indian Wells (USA), March 14 (IANS) World No 1 Iga Swiatek narrowly escaped Bianca Andreescu 6-3, 7-6 (1) to reach the Round of 16 at Indian Wells Masters in breezy, heavy conditions, here.

After playing a terrific match, Andreescu couldn't contain Swiatek in the tiebreak, losing seven of eight points on Monday night.

"She changed the rhythm pretty well and with this surface it can get tough. But I'm pretty happy I was solid most of the time, at least. And that I could be recomposed in the tiebreaker because I really knew that I could get my focus up. I'm even glad that I got a chance to kind of play under pressure some more and see how I'm going to cope with it," Swiatek was quoted as saying by WTA.

"I feel like the vibe is similar to the US Open, so, yeah, for sure playing under pressure it's tough," she added.

Swiatek is the only player yet to play a three-set match this year (minimum 15 played) and has ripped off a tour-leading 14 straight-set victories. Moreover, since the beginning of 2022, she's won the most matches in straight sets (25) -- eight more than the next player, Jessica Pegula.

The difference, as usual, could be seen in the crucible of break points. Swiatek converted five of eight, while Andreescu converted one fewer. Swiatek, now 2-0 against Andreescu, is still on track to become the first woman to defend the title here at Indian Wells since Martina Navratilova in 1991.

This is already Swiatek's 13th trip to the Round of 16 at a WTA Tour 1000. Since 2009, only three other players -- Caroline Wozniacki (23), Victoria Azarenka (15) and Agnieszka Radwanska (14) -- accomplished that before turning 22 years old.

In a flurry, Andreescu won that 2019 title here, then the Toronto 1000 and the US Open. She was 19 years old. Since then, dogged by a variety of injuries, it has been a slog. She's 6-6 for the year and looking for a spark. This match, despite the result, might have been the thing she was looking for.

The 21-year-old Swiatek now meets 2021 US Open champion Emma Raducanu in a Wednesday matchup between two more Grand Slam singles champions. The unseeded Brit knocked off No.13 seed Beatriz Hadda Maia of Brazil in a 6-1, 2-6, 6-4 third-round match.

The win also puts Raducanu into the last 16 of any WTA 1000 event for the first time in her career. She lost in the third round of three of these events a year ago, including in Indian Wells.

Notably, Swiatek won their only previous match, last year in Stuttgart.

"I'm pretty sure I'll be ready tactically.Honestly, my goal is to approach every match the same way. I'm pretty sure I got into the rhythm already, so I'm hoping I'm going to play better and better, " Swiatek said about her clash with Raducanu.

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