Rybakina, who stunned Swiatek in the fourth round of the Australian Open before losing to Aryna Sabalenka in the final of the first Grand Slam of the year, overtook Czech Karolina Muchova 7-6 (7/4), 2-6 in 76th place. 6-4
“She’s playing really well and in the semifinals you always play against the top players, so I’ll be ready,” said Swiatek. “The last time we played was in Australia. Totally different conditions. So I’ll prepare the same way I do before any other game and I’ll give 100%.”
Swiatek, in her 50th week at number one, is vying to become just the second woman, after Martina Navratilova in 1990-91, to win back-to-back titles at the combined WTA and ATP Masters 1000 event in the California desert.
She has yet to drop a set in a week in which she has defeated former US Open champions Bianca Andreescu and Emma Raducanu.
Romanian Cirstea, ranked at No. 83 in the world and claiming an impressive fourth-round victory over fifth-place Caroline Garcia, did everything to stay close to Swiatek early on.
She recovered an early break and fended off a break point as she leveled the opening set at 2-2.
But Swiatek, who had adjusted to the warm daytime conditions after two consecutive night games, won the next eight games to take a stranglehold on the competition.
Cirstea saved a first set point with an ace and earned a game point with an excellent drop shot before finally succumbing to Swiatek’s pressure with a forehand to the net.
Lightning quick, Swiatek was 4-0 up with two breaks in the second, Cirstea clawing one back to hold at 4-2 in a spirited performance before Swiatek made the finish.
“The most important thing for me is that I came back in the second set to end it properly,” said Swiatek. “And I’m glad I played so hard that I was able to start both sets well.”
She will face her biggest test of the week against Kazakhstan’s Rybakina, who had all she could take from the often-injured Muchova.
The Czech also reached the quarter-finals in Dubai last month but had to retire with a stomach injury.
Rybakina took advantage when Muchova’s service speed faltered in the final set, but needed three match points to end it. She wasted two with two backhand errors when Muchova held serve in the penultimate game.
Rybakina then fell behind on serve at 0-30 but leveled it after two hours and 45 minutes with her sixth ace of the day.
“Well, I didn’t start the game that well,” Rybakina said. “I was a little low on energy, wasn’t moving that well. Didn’t serve (well) either.
“Besides, Karolina, she played really well. She opened up the court and took advantage of those slow conditions. In the third, I just knew I had to push more, try to focus on every point, somehow boost my energy.”
– Alcaraz in action –
Two men’s quarterfinals were on the agenda, with top seed Carlos Alcaraz taking on Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime and defending champion Taylor Fritz taking on Italy’s Jannik Sinner in a battle of the big players.
The 10th-ranked Canadian, who survived six match points in a fourth-round win over Tommy Paul, has won all four of his previous games, most recently a straight-set win at Basel in October as Auger enjoyed a late-season rebound. Aliassime wins three ATP titles in a row.
The other spots in the semifinals were decided on Wednesday when Daniil Medvedev – who was targeting a fourth straight ATP title after victories in Rotterdam, Doha and Dubai – defeated Alejandro Davidovich Fokina of Spain 6-3, 7-5 to defeat him to compete American Frances Tiafoe, a 6-4, 6-4 winner over former champion Cameron Norrie of Great Britain.
Sabalenka also advanced, passing American Coco Gauff 6-4, 6-0 to book a meeting with 2022 finalist Maria Sakkari, who beat two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova 4-6, 7-5 , defeated 6-1.
Source : sports.yahoo.com