No.19 Veronika Kudermetova advanced to the semifinals of the Toray Pan Pacific Open after upsetting No.2 Iga Swiatek 6-2, 2-6, 6-4 in the quarterfinals on Friday. The victory put Kudermetova into her sixth semifinal of the season and first since June.

Swiatek had won all eight previous sets against Kudermetova, all in dominant fashion. In their last six sets, Swiatek lost a combined total of four games, including a 6-0, 6-1 win in Doha this year, followed by a 6-1, 6-1 win in Madrid. 

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"No," Kudermetova said when asked if she deployed any special tactics against Swiatek. "I tried to just believe that I can beat her. Today it happened. I'm really happy that I managed to switch [the head-to-head] and win one match." 

How the match was won: Kudermetova entered the match on an upswing after a frustrating summer. Her opening wins over Harriet Dart and Kayla Day were her first back-to-back victories since the grass season in Berlin. Her win over Swiatek is her second against a Top 2-ranked player this season (Aryna Sabalenka, Berlin).  

Bidding to take her first set off Swiatek, Kudermetova took advantage of a slow start from the World No.2 to race to a 4-0 lead after 17 minutes. Swiatek managed just three winners in the first set while misfiring on 20 unforced errors. Kudermetova kept a cleaner, more disciplined sheet, hitting three winners to nine unforced errors. 

Swiatek began to find her range toward the close of the 40-minute first set but failed to break in the two games in which she earned a break point. But Swiatek took that improved level into the second set to win eight of the first nine points and earn her first break of the match. She would protect and extend the lead in the set's final game, breaking to take the match to a decider. 

Turning point: Kudermetova's 12-5 record in deciding sets this season was fully displayed in the final set. In a protracted game, Kudermetova broke through on her third break point to earn a 3-1 lead.

With Swiatek champing at the bit to mount a comeback, Kudermetova protected her service games to close out the win. Facing down the game's toughest returner, Kudermetova did not face a break point in the final set. 

"In the last game, I just focused on playing the point," Kudermetova said. "I don't need to hit aces. I think that was the key. I was ready to play the rally, not just finish with the serve."

Stat of the match: Swiatek hit 50 unforced errors in the 2-hour and 21-minute match, along with 18 winners. Kudermetova hit 35 unforced errors to 11 winners.

Up next: Kudermetova will face Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in Saturday's semifinals. The 2021 Roland Garros finalist advanced to her first semifinal since that magical run by defeating Ekaterina Alexandrova 6-2, 7-5 in the quarterfinals. 

A two-time finalist in 2017 and 2019, Pavlyuchenkova has tapped into her Tokyo form to post wins over Donna Vekic, Linda Noskova, and Alexandrova.