BEIJING -- No.2 Iga Swiatek advanced to the semifinals of the China Open after defeating No.10 Caroline Garcia 6-7(8), 7-6(5), 6-1 in the quarterfinals on Friday.
Making her tournament debut in Beijing, Swiatek advanced to her 11th semifinal of the season and 11th WTA 1000 semifinal of her career. Beijing is her fifth hard-court WTA-1000 semifinal of 2023, equaling Serena Williams (2013) and Simona Halep (2015) for the most hard-court WTA-1000 semifinals in a single season. Swiatek also made the semifinals or better in Dubai, Indian Wells, Montreal, and Cincinnati.
In her career, Swiatek is now 7-0 in WTA-1000 hard-court quarterfinals. She is the second player since the format was introduced in 2009 to win her first seven WTA-1000 quarterfinals on this surface after Ashleigh Barty.
Facing off for the first time since the WTA Finals last fall, Swiatek entered Friday's duel with 2-1 advantage in the head-to-head. Last year, the two split their two meetings, with Garcia winning on clay in Warsaw and Swiatek handing the Frenchwoman her only loss in Fort Worth last fall.
How the match was won: Neither player gave an inch in the first set. Garcia converted 71 percent of her first serves, won 80 percent of her first-serve points and 75 percent of her second-serve points. Swiatek kept pace, serving at 80 percent and winning 89 percent of her first-serve points and 86 percent of her second-serve points.
With no break points through the first 12 games, Garcia and Swiatek headed to a tiebreak. Garcia rode her strong serving day through the tiebreak to lead 5-2, before two key passing shots from Swiatek leveled the score to 6-6.
Swiatek took the lead by besting Garcia in a baseline rally for 7-6. After opening up space for a forehand winner down the line, the former No.1 put her forehand long to keep Garcia in the set.
After connecting on a deep return to earn a fourth set point, Garcia closed out the 53-minute opening set with a curling second serve that earned a short reply that she put away into the open court.
Swiatek struck back early in the second set, generating the first break point of the match and breaking for a 2-1 lead. She extended that lead to 4-1 before Garcia stormed back. With Swiatek serving for the set at 5-4, Garcia broke at 15-40 with a perfect backhand return down the line.
Turning point: With Swiatek serving to stay in the match, Garcia came within two points of closing out a straight-sets win. But two clutch points from Swiatek put the match into a second tiebreak.
Swiatek took an early 4-0 lead but, as was the case in the set, the Pole could not hold off Garcia. After closing the gap to 5-4, Garcia struck a lightning-quick forehand return to level to 5-5.
But with Swiatek reeling, Garcia could not land the final blow. She put an aggressive forehand return just wide to give Swiatek her first set point and she converted by winning a backhand rally to take the match into its third hour.
"For sure it was really intense," Swiatek said. "We played really fast. There was no time sometimes to think or analyze. I'm happy I used my intuition a lot.
"For sure a lot of tight moments. In both of these first sets, every ball counted. I'm happy that in the third I could just go for it."
Having leveled the match, Swiatek powered through the final set. After breaking Garcia to build a 3-0 lead, Swiatek earned a final insurance break at 5-1 and closed out the 2-hour and 35-minute win.
Final stats: On a remarkable serving day from both players, Swiatek withstood 16 aces from Garcia and kept the Frenchwoman at bay on return. Garcia generated just two break points for the match, converting both, while Swiatek generated six and converted on four.
Swiatek finished with 30 winners to just 15 unforced errors in the match. Garcia struck 46 winners to 26 unforced errors.
Up next: As she bids to capture her first WTA 1000 title of the season, Swiatek will face US Open champion Coco Gauff on Saturday in a rematch of the Cincinnati semifinal. There, Gauff earned her first win in eight matches over Swiatek, winning 7-6(2), 3-6, 6-4.
The American comes into the match riding the longest win streak of the 2023 season after notching her 16th straight win in the quarterfinals.