| By New York Tennis Magazine Staff
Photo Credit: Andrew Ong/USTA


Top-ranked Iga Swiatek secured her spot in the first U.S. Open semifinal of her career by battling past eighth-seeded American Jessica Pegula 6-3, 7-6(4) inside Arthur Ashe Stadium on Wednesday night.

“I’m pretty proud of it because I feel like I’m playing better and better every match,” said Swiatek. “Jessie was a tough opponent today, for sure. Second set was really tight. We both were fighting till the last point. I’m proud of myself that I could be the one to win the last one.”

Pegula broke for a 3-2 lead in the opening set, but handed it back to Swiatek in the ensuing game after leading 30-0. From there, Swiatek would rattle off the next three games to claim the first set.

In the second, both players struggled on serve with 10 different breaks of serve throughout the set’s 12 games, resulting in a deciding tiebreaker. The returners continued their advantage in the breaker with seven of the 11 points going to the returner.

But from 5-4 in the tiebreak, Swiatek dialed up her best serves of the match to close out the match on serve and book her spot in the final four of the U.S. Open.

“At the beginning of the tournament, of course you’re here to make the best result as possible, but I wasn’t expecting [to reach the semifinals],” said Swiatek. “I’m really happy that I’m working to keep my expectations low because today was such a tough match and I think that the level was great, so I’m really happy that I handled it.”

In search of her fourth hard-court title of the season, Swiatek will face off against Belarus’ Aryna Sabalenka, who ascended into her second consecutive U.S. Open semifinal with a 6-1, 7-6(4) victory over Karolina Pliskova.

Aryna Sabalenka is back into the U.S. Open semifinals after defeating Karolina Pliskova on Wednesday. (Photo Credit: Brandon Todd/USTA)

“I think I start really well, and the first set was really high level for me and put a lot of pressure on her,” said Sabalenka. “First set was really great. In the second set, I knew she will kind of trying to come back and she will do better. I just tried to hold my serve and try to put her under pressure on her serve.”

Swiatek leads the head-to-head 3-1, with all three of those victories coming this season in straight sets.

“It’s the first time we’re going to play against each other in a Grand Slam. So I don’t know how it’s going to be,” said Swiatek. “For sure I’m going to be working to keep my level of focus, determination the same way. We played each other a couple of times, so we know each other. It’s going to be a pretty similar situation.”

In the other semifinal on Thursday night, France’s Caroline Garcia will meet Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur.