TORONTO -- No.24 Beatriz Haddad Maia continued her outstanding run of form over the past two months to defeat World No.1 Iga Swiatek 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 in the Round of 16 at the National Bank Open. The win was the 26-year-old's first over a World No.1. She also became the first Brazilian woman to advance to the quarterfinal stage of a WTA 1000 tournament.
Since the start of June, only Caroline Garcia has won more matches than Haddad Maia, who has now tallied 15 victories. A back-to-back champion on the grass in Nottingham and Birmingham, the Brazilian came into Toronto at a career-high ranking of No.24. Her form over the first two rounds was strong, tallying wins against French Open semifinalist Martina Trevisan and US Open finalist Leylah Fernandez.
"I had a lot of tough moments in my career," Haddad Maia said. "I have already had four surgeries and I'm only 26 years old. So when I have special moments I try to enjoy. Because sometimes we think, Oh, no, I'm not that happy. I'm not that, I don't think about winning.
"But the truth is that I work for like 15 years to live this moment, to live this dream that I worked a lot."
How the match was won: In windy conditions that Simona Halep described as "impossible," Haddad Maia was the steadier player through the first set. As Swiatek struggled to generate a single break point on the Brazilian's serve, Haddad Maia consistently pressured the World No.1. Swiatek played 40 points on her serve in the first set compared to Haddad Maia's 25. An early break for Haddad Maia was all she needed to march her way through the first set.
"I think at the beginning I struggled to find my rhythm on the court," Swiatek said. "Probably because she's lefty and I had a hard time adjusting to her serve. And plus the wind. I think without the wind I would manage. But it was pretty crazy out there."
Haddad Maia continued her return pressure early in the second set. In the longest game of the match, Swiatek faced down five break points in the opening game to hold from 15-40. Once again, the set would be decided by a sole break. Swiatek finally broke through the Haddad Maia serve to earn a 4-2 lead and closed it out from there.
The third remained a tight affair. Swiatek earned the early break at 1-0 but Haddad Maia broke twice for a 4-2 lead. Serving at 4-3, Haddad Maia was broken again to level the match.
Ultimately, Haddad Maia's continued return pressure would decide the match. She generated 19 break point chances in the match compared to Swiatek's nine. While Swiatek gamely saved 15 break points, the cumulative pressure paid dividends in the end. With Swiatek serving at 5-6 to force a tiebreak, Haddad Maia jumped on the Pole's second serve to earn more match points at 15-40. Haddad Maia converted on her fourth match point to close the three-hour match and the biggest win of her career.
Stat of the match: Haddad Maia hit just 12 unforced errors over the course of the lengthy match, an impressive number in calm conditions let alone the swirling conditions she faced against Swiatek. Haddad Maia also hit 23 winners. Swiatek finished the match with 33 winners to 28 unforced errors.
Haddad Maia's mental fortitude: "I knew that I had to play my best tennis," Haddad Maia said. "And also she could beat me, even if I was playing well. So I was trying to play every single point without excuse. I was trying to forget about what I did wrong, about the mistakes, and just go for it. I was just trying to live in the present. To play point by point.
"The weather conditions we don't control, we can't control. So it's not something that I can manage. So I need to deal with. And, yeah, I think I did a good mental job."