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Top-seed Swiatek exits Miami with Gauff after upsets

By AFP

March 26, 2024 09:58 AM


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World number one Iga Swiatek was knocked out of the Miami Open after inspired Russian Ekaterina Alexandrova triumphed 6-4, 6-2 in their fourth round match on Monday.

The 16th seed Alexandrova played brilliant attacking tennis from the outset to beat the Pole and leave the WTA tournament without any of the top three seeds in the quarter-finals with Aryna Sabalenka and Coco Gauff also out.

France's Caroline Garcia upset world number three Gauff beating the American 6-3, 1-6, 6-2 on Monday to advance to the quarter-finals of the Miami Open, while world number two Aryna Sabalenka had been eliminated by Ukraine's Anhelina Kalinina on Saturday.

Swiatek never looked comfortable after Alexandrova broke her in the opening game and took control of proceedings with some outstanding, attacking tennis.

The Pole, who was looking to become the second woman to win the 'Sunshine Double' after her triumph at Indian Wells, generated just one break point in the match but Alexandrova saved it to take a 4-2 lead in the second set.

Having come from a set down in the previous round against Linda Noskova, Swiatek would have had some belief in turning the contest around but her Russian opponent was in no mood for mistakes.

She made short work of the second set, breaking to go 2-1 up with an startling cross-court return and ending the match with with 31 winners to Swiatek's 11.

The match was the first in which Swiatek has not broken serve since her defeat to Ash Barty in Adelaide in January, 2022.

"I just feel disappointed, for sure, because I thought I was going to play better here in Miami. But she played an amazing match and for sure was the better play out there today," said the 22-year-old, four-time grand slam winner.

Swiatek said she had a hard time reading Alexandrova's serve but felt that things just hadn't clicked for her in the tournament.

"I was feeling that I couldn't play in a natural way but it's not like I always feel comfortable on court. I thought I would be able to work through that," she said.

Alexandrova laughed off the suggestion that she had played a perfect match but was certainly not going to downplay her performance.

"It was such a great game for me in consistency, the serve, the returns, the playing from the baseline, I think it was pretty good and I hope I can keep for the next match," she said.

A quarter-finalist also in Miami last year, that next match will be against fifth-seed Jessica Pegula on Wednesday.

Garcia, who had beaten four-times Grand Slam winner Naomi Osaka in straight sets on Sunday, continued her inspired form as she defeated Gauff on her home court in one hour 43 minutes.

- 'Tough loss' -

After a thrilling encounter, which ebbed and flowed, Garcia, ranked 27th in the world, emerged to face a last-eight meeting with the winner of Monday's match between Romanian Sorana Cirstea and American Danielle Collins.

The victory was Garcia's first against a top ten opponent since late 2022 but her third career win (3-2) against Gauff, who she also beat in the 2022 US Open.

"It was definitely a great match and great win for me. And the last couple of months have not been easy. And definitely today, following the match of yesterday, it means a lot. And it was some great tennis," she said.

Gauff, who hails from South Florida, was disappointed not to have progressed further in front of a home crowd.

"It is a tough loss," she said, "It was basically an up and down match. She played aggressive, which I knew coming in and I think it was really important for me to just change the height of the ball.

"I did that well for the majority of the second set. And then starting off the third with an early break, I think just completely changed the momentum," added the American.

Fourth seed Elena Rybakina defeated American Madison Keys 6-3, 7-5 to set up a quarter-final with Greece's Maria Sakkari.

Sakkari advanced with a walkover after Anna Kalinskaya had to withdraw ahead of their match on Monday due to a right thigh injury.

Victoria Azarenka also progressed with a 7-5, 6-1 win over Britain's Katie Boulter.


AFP


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