INDIAN WELLS, Calif. (AP)Top-ranked Iga Swiatek breezed past Sorana Cirstea 6-2, 6-3 to reach the semifinals of the BNP Paribas Open on Thursday.
Swiatek, the defending champion, took a 4-0 lead in the second set and converted her second match point to close it out.
“I’m happy that I played so intense that I could start both sets well,” Swiatek said. “I’m feeling like I’m handling things pretty well and just playing my game.”
Next up for Swiatek is No. 10 seed Elena Rybakina, who outlasted Karolina Muchova 7-6 (4), 2-6, 6-4. It will be a rematch from the Australian Open in January, when Rybakina won 6-4, 6-4 in the quarterfinals.
Jannik Sinner beat defending champion Taylor Fritz 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 to become the first Italian man to reach the semifinals of the 47-year-old tournament.
Sinner, the 11th seed, advanced to the semis at a Masters 1000 for the second time. He will meet top-seeded Carlos Alcaraz, who beat No. 8 Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-4, 6-4. Alcaraz needs to win the title to reclaim the world’s No. 1 ranking.
Sinner had 32 winners to 25 for Fritz; both had 17 unforced errors.
Sinner connected on 80% of his first serves and won 15 of 18 points at the net.
Fritz said Sinner handled the windy conditions better down the stretch.
“I’d say the two games that I got broken in the third, I just didn’t really feel like I could do much in the points,” Fritz said. “I had to just kind of like hope that he’d get a miss, just because of how strong the wind was in my face.”
Sinner said he stepped in against Fritz’s serve in the middle of the match and tried to take the ball earlier to throw off the American’s rhythm.
“I moved a little bit in, especially on the deuce side,” he said. “But only on first serve, because I felt like I didn’t have any chance to see the ball toss or where he was serving. So I tried at least, if the ball is there, to catch it as soon as possible to give him less time.”
Rybakina became the first woman from Kazakhstan to earn a semifinal berth at Indian Wells.
She dropped her first set of the tournament in the second, but turned it up in the third. The 2022 Wimbledon champion won 15 of 16 first-serve points and never faced a break point in the set.
“I served much better in the third,” Rybakina said on court. ”I didn’t start that well in the beginning of the match, I was a bit slower than usual and here the conditions are not that easy for me. In the end, in the important moments I played well.”
Rybakina and Swiatek are 1-1 against each other in their careers.
“In Australia, I just know that when I went to play against her, I had really nothing to lose. She’s number one and kind of pressure on her in that moment,” Rybakina said.
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