Swiatek bounces back from defeat to defeat Niemeier at US Open

NEW YORK — Coming into the fourth round on Monday, Iga Swiatek had never lost to a player outside the top 100 in a Grand Slam event. Before this year’s Wimbledon, Jule Niemeier had never won a major draw.

That was the stark contrast on Monday afternoon at Louis Armstrong Stadium as Niemeier came tantalizingly close to surprising this US Open. In the end, Swiatek escaped 2-6, 6-4, 6-0.

“Honest at first [of the second set] I felt like I was making just a little less mistakes, but she also started playing less aggressively,” Swiatek told reporters. “It was easier for me to play the ball in. Yes, I think I’ve started to be more solid and I took a little bit more chances that I had.”

This is Swiatek’s third Grand Slam quarterfinal of the season. It was her 19th tooth 6-0 win for Swiatek. It’s the best for any player since Serena Williams had 25 in 2013.

Swiatek will go into Wednesday’s game against No.8 Jessica Pegula feeling comfortable about the matchup. Swiatek has won two out of three, both in 2022 – in the semifinals at Miami 6-2, 7-5 and in the quarterfinals at Roland Garros 6-3, 6-2.

“I’m just proud that I didn’t give up hope,” said Swiatek. “I had a hard time pushing them back. I’m pretty glad it worked. I used my experience to keep my level throughout the game.”

Match Highlights: Swiatek hadn’t lost a set in four matches, but Niemeier broke the two-time French Open champion in the opening game and raced to the opener.

Niemeier scored the first break of the second with a spectacular crosscourt forehand return followed by an uncharacteristic error from Swiatek. With an open field in front of her, she hacked a forehand volley into the net. Swiatek broke right back to make it 2-all.

The turning point came in game five when Swiatek erased a Love 30 hole with four straight points, ending with an ace, a forehand winner and another ace. The momentum continued when she stopped Niemeier in the next game when the German hosed down a forehand long.

Niemeier retaliated with a massive backhand winner, returning the set at serve 3-4. Swiatek, visibly irritated with herself, broke Niemeier for the third straight year – before Niemeier broke her back. Swiatek sarcastically gave her box a thumbs-up after removing it with a double fault.

A fourth break in a row from Niemeier’s serve gave Swiatek the match-evening second set. At the start of the third break, Swiatek broke out for the fifth straight day, running out to an lead she wasn’t about to give up.

The hard-hitting 23-year-old German produced 14 unforced errors in the third set, compared to one for Swiatek. She also hit 13 double faults in the match. Meanwhile, Swiatek broke Niemeier’s serve seven out of 13 times.

Niemeier makes progress: Niemeier was only in her third Grand Slam main draw and was surprisingly good in big games. In her only meeting to date with a top 10 player, she upset No. 2 Anett Kontaveit in the second round at Wimbledon. It’s hard to believe that she had never won a tour-level hard court match when she came to the US Open.

Even harder to imagine her last tournament before that was the ITF $60,000 in the Bronx. Niemeier lost in the first round to qualifier Lesley Pattinama Kerkhove in 199th place and received $557 in prize money. Niemeier’s reward for reaching the fourth round is $278,000.

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