Swiatek sets Rybakina rematch at Indian Wells



The Manila Times



INDIAN WELLS: World number one Iga Swiatek swept past Sorana Cirstea 6-2, 6-3 on Thursday (Friday in Manila) to line up an Indian Wells semifinal grudge match against Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina. Rybakina, who stunned Swiatek in the fourth round of the Australian Open before falling to Aryna Sabalenka in the final of the year’s first Grand Slam, outlasted 76thranked Czech Karolina Muchova 7-6 (7/4), 2-6, 6-4. “She’s playing really well and in semifinals you are always going to play against the top players, so I’ll be ready,” Swiatek said. “Last time we played was in Australia. Totally different conditions. So I’ll just prepare the same as before any other match and I’ll do 100 percent.” 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 in the combined WTA and ATP Masters 1000 event in the California desert. But men’s defending champion Taylor Fritz’s hopes of a repeat were ended by 13th-ranked Italian Jannik Sinner, who outgunned the fifth-ranked American 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 in a pulsating Stadium Court clash. Sinner, winner of a title this year in Montpellier, seized the initiative with a service break in the opening game. It proved all the opening he needed as he saved a break point in the next game and went on to pocket the set. Fritz, who rose to fifth in the world with a title at Delray Beach this year, responded in the second, losing just four points on his serve and converting the only break point in the final game when he slipped a low forehand up the line past the Italian. It was neck and neck again in the third, which opened with an exchange of breaks before Fritz used his big serve to escape a 0-40 jam. Fritz saved another break point in the seventh game, racing forward on Sinner’s drop shot and coming up with an angled backhand winner. But Sinner broke through in the ninth game, his pounding forehand to the corner forcing the miss from Fritz on break point. Sinner, coping admirably with the windy conditions, polished it off with a hold at love after two hours and 17 minutes. Meanwhile, top-seeded Carlos Alcaraz edged Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-4, 6-4 to book a semifinal meeting with Sinner. Alcaraz posted his first win over the 10th-ranked Canadian in four career meetings to keep his bid to regain the world number one ranking on track. “Probably I played one of my best matches of this season, so I’m really happy,” Alcaraz said. Alcaraz has slipped behind Novak Djokovic in the rankings, but after injury delayed his 2023 season start to February the 19-year-old Spaniard has won one title at Buenos Aires and reached the final at Rio de Janeiro. Alcaraz hadn’t dropped a set in reaching the quarters, but AugerAliassime was the first top 10 player he has faced this year.