No. 1-seeded Iga Swiatek became the first player in the quarterfinals of the Agel Open after qualifier Ajla Tomljanovic was forced to retire, down 7-5, 2-2 with a left knee injury.
Playing her first match since winning her third Grand Slam trophy at the US Open, Swiatek was involved in a close clash with Tomljanovic before the Australian began to suffer in the second set. Tomljanovic started clutching her knee in the second game of the second set and finished it after holding serve to make it 2-2.
Game moments: Previously, Tomljanovic had pushed the Pole to the limit. Swiatek sped off the blocks, completely commanding her game and dominating the game as she popped out to make it 4-1. She produced a series of spectacular winners to take two points from a 5-1 lead but when Tomljanovic got away with the holding the game was on.
Tomljanovic equalized to 4-4 and held two break points, but couldn’t take either of them. Instead, it was Swiatek who squeaked the set and converted her second set point when Tomljanovic scored a volley.
34th-placed Tomljanovic continued to demonstrate her fighting spirit in a hard-fought start to the second set, in which all four games were two-two. Two amazing Swiatek strikes helped her get through a second game with six twos to hit Tomljanovic back, but unfortunately the game was curtailed two games later.
In Swiatek’s words: “We played in Toronto and I saw how well Ajla played at the US Open – it seems she’s running really well and she’s playing better and better. It was a great match and it’s unfortunate that something happened – I hope she will recover quickly.
“I’ve had a three week break from playing and after such an intense period it seems like a lot. I felt like I had to get back into the rhythm and it wasn’t easy. I had a reunion and Ajla have already played a few matches. So I felt like I had to catch up. But I’m pretty happy that this match was so intense because I feel like I need to go to another level and it will prepare me for the next matches.”
What’s next for Swiatek: Swiatek advances to her 11th Hologic WTA Tour Quarterfinals of the year where she faces either Karolina Muchova or qualifier Caty McNally. Known for their diversity, both players delivered impressive highlight reels en route to their first round wins. McNally’s touch (and an adorable tweener) brought former American qualifier Anna Blinkova 6-1, 6-2 on Tuesday.
Ahead of Swiatek on center court, former world No. 19 Muchova upset No. 7 Beatriz Haddad Maia 6-4, 6-4 after collapsing in both sets. It was the Czech’s first win against a top-20 opponent since beating Maria Sakkari in the second round of Roland Garros and continues his rise in form this month after an injury-plagued season.
Swiatek, last year’s semi-finalist in Ostrava, where she fell to Sakkari, is bidding for her first tour-level title on indoor hard courts this week. She has won an ITF trophy on the surface – the Stockholm W10 in 2006, her first ever pro title at the age of 15.