World No.1 Iga Swiatek had to pull off a grueling comeback win in the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix semifinals to keep her incredible winning streak alive, as she overcame Liudmila Samsonova 6-7(4), 6-4, 7-5 to move into her fourth Hologic WTA Tour singles final of the season.
Swiatek is now up to 22 straight match-wins on tour after a walloping 3-hour and 3-minute victory over World No.31 Samsonova. Swiatek is the tour match-wins leader for 2022 overall, with her win-loss record this season up to 29-3.
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After gritting out this hard-fought triumph, Swiatek's run will next be tested against No.3 seed Aryna Sabalenka in Sunday’s final. In a tussle between Top 5 players, 2021 Stuttgart runner-up Sabalenka defeated No.2 seed Paula Badosa in Saturday's earlier semifinal.
Iga ekes out another win: Swiatek nearly saw her tremendous run — which includes three consecutive WTA 1000 titles in Doha, Indian Wells, and Miami — come to an end against the blistering power play from Samsonova.
Samsonova did snap Swiatek’s 28-set winning streak with a tiebreak victory at the end of the 71-minute opening frame. The pair went toe-to-toe for the remainder of the clash, with Samsonova twice charging back from a break down in the third set, before Swiatek prevailed in the marathon.
"For sure it was tough, and it seemed like a marathon," Swiatek said afterward. "It had many ups and downs, and I had to stay focused and find solutions. ... I knew that Liudmila played really great tennis, and I felt that on my racquet, so all credit to her."
Swiatek: “I have no idea how I came back. Honestly, I didn’t want to give up. I wanted to try and find solutions.— WTA Insider (@WTA_insider) April 23, 2022
"I think Liudmila played Top 8 tennis. We both were fighting until the last ball. I was pretty fortunate that I was able to break her at 5-5.”#PorscheTennis pic.twitter.com/O1HBwGgCJs
Swiatek ultimately had slightly higher success returning than Samsonova, on both first and second serves, which helped the Polish star grab an additional break in each of the last two sets to squeak out the win. Swiatek went 5-for-15 on break points, while Samsonova was 3-for-8.
Despite the loss, it was still another banner week for Samsonova in Germany. Samsonova won her first singles title in the German capital of Berlin last year as a 106th-ranked qualifier, and she earned her first career Top 10 win just two days ago with her upset of Karolina Pliskova.
Tale of the match: Swiatek saw a 4-1 lead in the opening set dissolve against her powerful opponent. Samsonova saved four break points for a crucial 4-4 hold, and she took charge in the tiebreak with stellar serving, quickly leading 5-2. Two more unreturned serves from 5-4 in the breaker saw Samsonova hand Swiatek her first lost set in over a month.
Top seed Swiatek was unable to shake Samsonova off for much of the second set, but at 4-4, a divine deep return gave the World No.1 the only break of that set. Swiatek served the set out at love, and the match was all square.
Swiatek had early control of the third set at 3-1, but Samsonova reeled off three games in a row to claim a 4-3 lead. In the end, though, it was Swiatek who again came through with a late break, forcing errors from Samsonova to move ahead 6-5. Swiatek swiftly served out the match, clinching the whisker-thin win.
World No.4 Sabalenka awaits in the final: Swiatek and Sabalenka have split their two previous meetings. Sabalenka prevailed in three sets at last year's Akron WTA Finals, but Swiatek avenged that loss in straight sets en route to her 2022 Doha title.
"Aryna, she's a great player, and everybody knows that," said Swiatek. "I have to be ready for everything, and just focus on myself, and be aggressive and be solid. We're gonna see. I just hope it's going to be a good match."