World number one Inga Swiatek beat Sorana Cristia 6-2, 6-3 on Thursday to set up a semi-final match against Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina at Indian Wells.
Rybakina, who stunned Swiatek in the fourth round of the Australian Open but lost to Aryna Sabalenka in her first Grand Slam final of the year, saw off 76th-ranked Czech Karolina Muchova 7-6 (7/4), 2-6. Beat off. 6-4.
“She’s playing really well and in the semi-finals you’re always going to be playing against top players, so I’ll be ready,” Swiatek said. “Last time we played in Australia. Completely different conditions. So I will prepare like any other match and I will give 100%.”
Swiatek, in her 50th week at No. 1, is vying to become only the second woman since Martina Navratilova in 1990-91 to win back-to-back titles at a joint 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 stunned the fifth-ranked American 6-4, 4-6, 6-4.
Sinner, winner of a title this year in Montpellier, seized the initiative with a service break in the opening game. This proved to be all the opening she needed as she saved a break point in the next game to pocket the set.
Fritz, who rose to world number five this year with a title at Delray Beach, responded in the second, losing just four points on his serve and converting the only break point in the final game when he sent a low forehand down the line. Past done. 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 the 0-40 jam.
Fritz saved another break point in the seventh game, pouncing on Sinner’s drop shot and coming up with an angled backhand winner.
But Sinner broke in the ninth game, her searing forehand in the corner missed by Fritz on break point.
Papi, coping admirably with the windy conditions, pulled it off lovingly after two hours and 17 minutes.
“I knew it would be difficult to finish the last game, I was also a bit against the wind,” Sinner said. “I just tried to play aggressively which is what I did.
“Obviously (I’m) very happy about the performance, it’s not easy to play against Taylor. I lost against him here two years ago and given the circumstances, I’m very happy that I found a way to win ,” said Sinner, who awaits the winner of the remaining quarter-final between world top-seeded number two Carlos Alcaraz and 10th-ranked Felix Auger-Aliassime.
The Canadian has won all three of his previous bouts.
Swiatek has reached the semi-finals without dropping a set. Romania’s Cristia, ranked 83rd in the world, did everything she could to stay up early with Swiatek after an impressive fourth-round win over fifth-ranked Caroline Garcia.
He secured an early break and defended a break point as he leveled the opening set at 2–2.
But Swiatek took hold on the contest by winning the next eight games after two straight night matches, adjusting to the hot conditions of the day.
– Proper closing –
Down 4–0 in the second, Krystia mounted a comeback and produced a spirited performance for 4–2 before Swiatek closed it out.
“The most important thing for me was to come back in the second set to finish it off properly,” Swiatek said.
She will face her biggest test of the week against Kazakhstan’s Ryabkina, who had everything she could handle from the oft-injured Muchova.
Rybakina needed three match points to end it, wasting two with two backhand errors before sealing it with her sixth ace of the day.
“I’m just happy that in the end I managed to win the match with an ace,” Rybakina said.
Other semi-final berths were decided on Wednesday, when Daniil Medvedev – chasing a fourth consecutive ATP title after victories in Rotterdam, Doha and Dubai – beat Spain’s Alejandro Davidovich Fokina to set up an American Frances Tiafoe.
Sabalenka also advanced, pipping American Coco Gauff to book a meeting with 2022 finalist Maria Sakkari.