Mar 18, 2022; Indian Wells, CA, USA; Iga Swiatek (ITA) hits a shot as she defeated Simona Halep (ROM) in her semifinal match at the BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

March 19, 2022

(Reuters) – World number four Iga Swiatek reached her first Indian Wells final on Friday after overpowering former champion Simona Halep 7-6(6) 6-4 in just under two hours.

Swiatek, the 2020 French Open champion, prevailed in a topsy-turvy first set, saving two set points and hitting 19 winners to Halep’s five to close out the opener.

Halep swung the momentum back in her favour in the second set but was unable to fight past the 20-year-old Swiatek, who rallied from 4-2 down before winning 16 of the final 21 points to seal the semi-final result.

After being pushed to three sets in her first three matches this week, Swiatek picked up her second straight-sets win in a row, following up her 6-1 6-0 dismissal of Madison Keys with victory over Halep.

The win means Swiatek has reached her second straight final, and extended her winning streak to 10 matches, having claimed the WTA 1000 title in Doha last month.

“It is insane, honestly,” Swiatek said. “At the beginning of the tournament, I wouldn’t even think of it, especially after winning in Doha… It’s really over my expectations so I’m really happy.

“In my previous matches against Simona, I always felt like I had nothing to lose because I was always not the favourite, but this one, I felt like my ranking is higher and obviously I’ve been playing well.

“It was stressful for sure but I wanted to fight until the end and be mentally stronger because Simona is a really strong player, mentally. She’s not giving up so I wanted to do that better. I’m pretty proud that I did that.”

Swiatek will face either sixth seed Maria Sakkari or reigning Indian Wells champion Paula Badosa, who will play their semi-final later on Friday.

(Reporting by Hritika Sharma in Bengaluru; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell)

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