MASON, Ohio − Iga Swiatek has been the talk of the Western & Southern Open this week, though it’s had little to do with her No. 1 ranking, which she is guaranteed to hold into the final Grand Slam of the tour next week at the U.S. Open.
On Thursday, after Swiatek recovered to beat China‘s Qinwen Zheng in the quarterfinals in three sets, Swiatek addressed the media before reporters could fire off the first question.
“The amount of hate and criticism that me and my team get after even losing a set is just ridiculous,” said the 22-year-old, who was born in Warsaw, Poland. “I want to kind of encourage people to be more thoughtful when they comment on the internet.”
Swiatek’s popularity has soared with being the No. 1 for 72 consecutive weeks and she was a subject in an episode of the Netflix docuseries “Break Point.” On Friday, after advancing to the semifinals, Swiatek doubled down on her statement from earlier this week that “there was some stuff that I wanted to be included.”
“There were some things I thought they edited it, and people kind of misunderstood sometimes (in) a few situations in the episode,” Swiatek said. “I wish it could be done a little differently. When we watched before the premiere, we couldn’t have any influence on how they edited some stuff.
“There was a lot of hate after the episode came out. That’s another thing that kind of convinced me that I don’t need that right now at this stage of my career.”
She said her frequent use of sarcasm is being taken out of context. In one of the show’s scenes, the show intimated sports psychologist Daria Abramowicz influenced her haircut style.
“I was sarcastic, and I said I’m not going to adjust my haircut to tennis … Daria reminded me about that. She got a lot of hate that she, like, I don’t know, has influence on my haircut,” Swiatek said.
Aside from the off-the-court storylines, Swiatek has backed up her No. 1 ranking with an impressive showing in Cincinnati, making at least the quarterfinals for the 12th time in 13 WTA events in the tour. Playing in front of a packed house on center court Friday morning, she dispatched No. 10 Marketa Vondrousova in straight sets 7-6 (3), 6-1 in a battle of two 2023 Grand Slam champions to reach the semifinals.
Swiatek showed her emotions with a few disgruntled displays after falling behind in the first set, 5-3. She won a game, then was able to break Vondrousova’s serve before prevailing in a tiebreaker.
“At the beginning, it wasn’t easy to get used to her lefty spin, but I’m happy that I kind of played better and better throughout the match,” Swiatek said. “At the end, I was really solid.”
Swiatek, who was coming off a loss to No. 1 American Jessica Pegula in the Canadian Open semifinals, has now dropped just one set (the opener to Zheng on Thursday) and has won 40 of 56 games in Cincinnati.
No. 7 seed Coco Gauff advances to face Swiatek
American Coco Gauff, 19, became the first teenager since 2014 to reach the Western & Southern Open quarterfinals after soaring past Linda Noskova in straight sets 6-4, 6-0 on center court Thursday night.
Gauff, ranked No. 5, has not dropped a set and won 36 of 49 games in three matches after defeating Italian qualifier Jasmine Paolini 6-3, 6-2 Friday afternoon to advance to the semifinals.
Gauff trailed 2-0 in each set but rallied to win six of the final seven games in the first and the final six games of the second set to take the match.
This week has been another strong outing in a stellar summer for Gauff, who recovered from a first-round loss at Wimbledon in July to win the Citi Open for her fourth career title and first above the WTA 250 level. Gauff now has 41 wins at WTA 1000s, the most of any player before turning 20.
To continue her hunt for the Rookwood Cup, Gauff will need to clear the Swiatek hurdle. Swiatek has beaten Gauff in all seven head-to-head contests without dropping a set, most recently at Roland Garros (6-4, 6-2).
“Coco, obviously we’ve played plenty of times. I kind of know her game, but you never know what she’s going to come up with. I’ll be ready and kind of focus on myself,” Swiatek said of the matchup.
This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: No. 5 Gauff gets another shot at No. 1 Swiatek in W&S Open semifinals