It was not an easy match the one that Iga Swiatek had to play against Donna Vekic today in order to qualify to the quarter finals of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome. The world number one and defending champion looked slightly less at ease with the conditions compared to the previous rounds, but managed to lift the level of her game in the key moments.
“I just played well in important points,” she explained after her 6-3 6-4 win: “When I was under pressure, I could play a little bit more solid. I’m happy that in those important moments I was proactive and more solid”.
The match indeed witnessed quite a number of shifts in the momentum, though it felt it was mostly Vekic chasing in the scoreboard. Thus said, the Croat played a strong match, handling the game of the defending champion well and finding great winning solutions her self – just like on the break point that got her back in the first set when she hit a stunning lob winner.
Swiatek, however, once again upped her level right away and took the first set on the trot.
“I knew that I could play more proactive game, but on the other hand in these conditions, when the balls are going to get heavy, it’s pretty hard to speed it up,” she said: “I waited for the right moment to break. I would say I wanted to be kind of patient with my decisions”.
Defense to Offense 🔥— wta (@WTA) May 16, 2023
Incredible stuff from @iga_swiatek to get the break deep in the 2nd set!#IBI23 pic.twitter.com/gHLYMIQiFD
The same attitude helped her in the second set, which once again was decided in the final games. The first break point of the set was offered by Vekic in the ninth game and Swiatek took advantage of it. The Pole had to clear a few chances from her opponent to break back before sealing the victory. Maybe it was not as impressive as her previous rounds, but it kept her winning streak in Rome alive.
It might have not been always the highest quality match, but it was a fabulous fight of will-power, physical strength and eventually great shots too the one between Paula Badosa and Karolina Muchova. Despite their unseeded status, the two have recently had a much greater rankings and they showed it on the Pietrangeli. Their 3 hours fight entertained the crowd and showed the great athleticsm of both, who kept running after every ball and drop shot – especially Badosa, as Muchova played a huge number of them- until the very final point.
The Spaniard eventually took the victory 6-4 (4)6-7 6-2 for a maiden quarter final in Rome, the first on a masters 1000 since Miami 2022. She will face Jelena Ostapenko for a spot in the final 4 of the tournament.