Top seed Iga Swiatek of Poland will meet No. 10 seed Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan in the semifinals of the BNP Paribas Open after each woman won Thursday in Indian Wells, Calif.
Swiatek, the defending champion, breezed past Sorana Cirstea of Romania 6-2, 6-3, while Rybakina won a tough battle against Karolina Muchova of the Czech Republic 7-6 (4), 2-6, 6-4.
The other semifinal match will pit Belarus’ Aryna Sabalenka, the second seed, against seventh seed Maria Sakkari of Greece.
World No. 1 Swiatek lost her serve in the third game of the match and saw her opponent tie the game 2-2. Swiatek responded by winning eight straight games — first completing the first-set victory, then bounding out to a 4-0 lead in the second.
Swiatek finished with 19 winners and 13 unforced errors. She converted five break points in eight chances.
Swiatek won her 16th straight main-draw match at the so-called Sunshine Double of Indian Wells and Miami, dating back to last year. Only Steffi Graf, Serena Williams and Venus Williams previously had 16-match win streaks at those events.
Cirstea went 2-for-2 in breaking Swiatek’s serve but had little else going for her. She wound up winning just 15 of her 31 first-service points (48.4 percent), compared to 24 of 34 for Swiatek (70.6 percent).
Meanwhile, Rybakina faced a stiffer test. In the first set she had to rally from down 5-3, then down 4-3 in the ensuing tiebreaker.
After Muchova cruised in the second set, Rybakina served up three of her six aces during the third set and won 15 of 16 first-service points (93.8 percent).
“I didn’t start the match so good. I was a bit low on energy,” Rybakina said. “Didn’t move that well. Didn’t serve also. So it was already struggle from the beginning. Also, Karolina, she played really well, she was opening the court and using these slow conditions. It was difficult for me to get free points.
“Yeah, it was tough first set, so in the second, it was difficult to keep the level. I dropped and lost three games really quick. So of course after I start to feel the rhythm again, but it was already too late for the second set. In the third, I just knew that I have to push more, try to focus on every point.”
Muchova saved 12 of 14 break points and converted 3 of 6 break-point opportunities.
–Field Level Media