No.1 seed Iga Swiatek reached her 10th semifinal of 2022 with a 6-4, 6-4 defeat of qualifier Caty McNally at the Agel Open.
Having set a record for the longest Hologic WTA Tour winning streak between February and July, US Open champion Swiatek's active streak has now ticked up to nine. The Pole's overall season record is 59-7 -- one victory away from tying Caroline Wozniacki, the last player to win 60 matches in a single season. The former World No.1 hit that mark in 2017.
Despite being able to wrap up the win in straight sets, Swiatek required 1 hour and 54 minutes to quell McNally's challenge. There was little smooth sailing against an opponent with whom Swiatek had won the 2018 Roland Garros girls' doubles title -- and to whom she had lost both of their junior meetings.
Swiatek will next face either Seoul champion Ekaterina Alexandrova or wild card Tereza Martincova.
Match management: Swiatek faced serious scoreboard pressure in both sets. In the first, she faced break points in each of her first three service games, and was the first player to go down a break when McNally pulled off a terrific passing shot for 3-2.
In the second, Swiatek saw the momentum of a five-game run evaporate as McNally fought back valiantly, pegging the World No.1 back from 3-0 to 3-3 with determined aggression.
But at the climax of each set, it was Swiatek who raised her game. No.151-ranked McNally's swashbuckling forays to the net have lent themselves to numerous highlights already this week in Ostrava, where she has made her quarterfinal debut at WTA 500 level. But Swiatek responded with a series of exquisitely placed passing shots to deny her opponent.
Key numbers: Both players defended break points well; even Swiatek only converted four of her 10 opportunities. But McNally will rue the nine chances out of 11 that she let slip, including triple break point at the start of the second set that she squandered with a series of errors.
Swiatek and McNally both committed 23 unforced errors, but it was the top seed who found more outright winners, 24 to her opponent's 18. Indeed, given McNally's aggressive intent, that number is a reflection of Swiatek's prowess on defense as well as offense.
In Swiatek's words: "It was definitely physical -- at the beginning of the second set I could feel my energy level went down a little bit. I'm pretty happy I got it back again and I could use my experience in my important moments, because Caty played really well.
"Tactically it was easier to prepare, because I know her game style [from juniors]. She's playing differently to other players. But on the other hand, a lot of time has passed since we played last time. I knew she'd made progress and I had to be ready."
Krejcikova reaches semifinals on home soil: Earlier, another Grand Slam champion extended her winning streak by ending an American qualifier's career-best run. Barbora Krejcikova saved one set point in the first set before pulling away from No.144-ranked Alycia Parks 7-6(7), 6-3 in 1 hour and 49 minutes.
Three Czechs feature in the quarterfinal lineup, and Krejcikova guaranteed at least one home presence in the last four after her seventh straight victory. The 2021 Roland Garros winner has been beset by injury and illness this season, but rebounded with her fourth career title in Tallinn last week.
Highlights: Krejcikova d. Parks
Parks showed resilience to peg Krejcikova back from an early break in both sets, but despite firing 28 winners (including six aces), the 21-year-old was undone by nine double faults. As the match went on, these increasingly came at unfortunate moments: to both start and end the first-set tiebreak; a trio to fall behind 2-0 in the second set; and, having recovered the break, another to go down 4-2.
Krejcikova will face either reigning Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina or former Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova in the semifinals.