Iga Swiatek and Elena Rybakina set for crunch match – ‘It’s not going to be easy’

Shahida Jacobs
Iga Swiatek in action
Iga Swiatek during a match

Iga Swiatek and Elena Rybakina will meet for the third time in 2023 as they will face each other in the quarter-final of the Italian Open.

World No 1 Swiatek won her rain-delayed match against Donna Vekic 6-3, 6-4 to book her place in the last eight while Rybakina completed her fourth-round encounter against Marketa Vondrousova on Monday, winning 6-3, 6-3.

For two-time defending champion Swiatek, her match against Vekic was her biggest test so far in Rome this year as she only dropped two games in her opening two matches after winning 6-0, 6-0 and 6-2, 6-0 with her winning streak now 14-0.

“I just played well in important points,” she said: “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 Pole added: “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. I waited for the right moment to break. I would say I wanted to be kind of patient with my decisions.”

But the competition will be a lot sterner on Wednesday as Rybakina has had the three-time Grand Slam winner’s number so far this year.

The reigning Wimbledon champion beat the Pole in the last 16 at the Australian Open in January and then again two months later in the semi-final of the Indian Wells Open. On both occassions the Kazakh player won in straight sets.

“It’s not going to be easy. She’s in great shape this season. It’s going to be challenging but I’m ready for it,” Swiatek said. “We’ll see how it’s going to go. I still feel really comfortable on clay so I hope it’s going to be a nice match.”

Iga Swiatek v Elena Rybakina the story so far…

Swiatek won their first-ever encounter in the quarter-final in Ostrava in 2021 as she claimed a 7-6 (7-5), 6-2 win, but Rybakina won 6-4, 6-4 in the Australian Open fourth round this year and followed it up with a 6,-2, 6-2 win in Indian Wells.

The winner of the Swiatek-Rybakina encounter will face either Jelena Ostapenko or Paula Badosa in the semi-final. Latvian Ostapenko defeated eighth seed Daria Kasatkina 6-4, 4-6, 6-0 while Badosa was a 6-4, 6-7 (4-7), 6-2 winner over Karolina Muchova.

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