SAN DIEGO, October 15, 2022 (by Richard Osborne)
Top seed Iga Swiatek of Poland, the first woman to eclipse the 60-win mark in half-a-decade, continued her winning ways on a cool Friday night at Barnes Tennis Center, asserting her dominance against American Coco Gauff, 6-0, 6-3, to reach the San Diego Open WTA 500 semifinals.
The world No. 1 improved to 4-0 against the sixth seeded Gauff, her last win coming this spring when they squared off in the Roland Garros final.
“I’m just really happy that I could keep my focus,” said Swiatek, who is chasing a tour-best eighth title on the year. “Sometimes when it’s going so well it’s hard to keep your focus and play the same kind of tennis. I was really composed and really efficient today.”
Swiatek will next face Gauff’s doubles partner, Jessica Pegula, on Semifinal Saturday in America’s Finest City. The 21-year-old has defeated the top-ranked American in straight sets on three occasions in 2022, most recently in the US Open quarterfinals.
Perhaps spurred by her two-pronged qualification for the year-end WTA Finals — the first American to do so in both singles and doubles since Venus and Serena Williams in 2009 — Pegula is into her fourth semifinal of 2022. The fourth seed prevailed in a first-time meeting with countrywoman Madison Keys, 6-4, 7-5.
— wta (@WTA) October 14, 2022
“It was really tricky. She’s got a lot of power, really good serve, really good kick-serve,” said Pegula, 28. “After I got broken, I just wanted to remind myself to keep being aggressive, because I knew if I let her dictate the points, it’s not going to go very well. I just tried to step in on my returns and trust my shots.”
Qualifier Donna Vekic is relishing her role as spoiler this week. Not only has the 77th-ranked Croat won three consecutive tour-level matches for the first time in 2022, she’s done so against some of the WTA’s very best. Following up on her upsets of fifth seed Maria Sakkari and 22nd-ranked Karolina Pliskova, the 26-year-old upended third seed Aryna Sabalenka in two hours and 36 minutes, 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-1, to reach her fist semifinal since she captured the Courmayeur crown a year ago.
It marked Vekic’s fifth win in six career encounters with Sabalenka, which includes a 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (3) decision last year at the Tokyo Olympics.
“This was probably one of the five hardest matches of my career,” said Vekic, who now owns 10 wins over Top-10 opponents. “It was extremely tough out there. I thought she played great, serving big. I was trying to attack her second serve, and even in the rallies tried to get on top of points. It’s definitely not easy against her.”
Sabalenka, who was playing her first tournament since reaching the US Open semifinals last month, has now played 25 three-set matches on the year, tied with Belinda Bencic for the most on tour. She played much of the match with her right calf taped.
Could Vekic pull off another upset when she takes on American Danielle Collins, a 7-6 (5), 6-4 quarterfinal winner over No. 2 seed Paula Badosa of Spain? She hasn’t faced the fiery former UVA star, ranked No. 19, since 2018 in Miami, where she suffered a 4-6, 6-2, 6-1 defeat in the second round.
Collins, who made her Top-10 debut in January after reaching her maiden Grand Slam final at the Australian Open, overcame 10 double faults to advance.
“It’s great seeing Donna back healthy and playing really good tennis,” said Collins. “She has a big game, a lot of weapons. I’ll just have to try to play my best.”
SEEING DOUBLE(S): PEGULA/GAUFF TEAM UP ON SEMIFINAL SATURDAY
A pair of doubles semifinals will bookend the singles semifinals on Saturday at Barnes Tennis Center, with the action getting underway at noon. The pairing of American Nicole Melichar-Martinez and Australian Ellen Perez will kick things off against Canadian Gabriela Dabrowski and Mexican Giuliana Olmos.
Americans Jessica Pegula and Coco Gauff, having already qualified for the upcoming WTA Finals in Fort Worth, will cap the day session when they face Southern Californian (Palm Desert) Desirae Krawczyk and Demi Schuurs of the Netherlands.
QF –  D. Krawczyk (USA) / D. Schuurs (NED) d. A. Guarachi (CHI) / A. Klepac (SLO) 75 46 10-5
QF –  N. Melichar-Martinez (USA) / E. Perez (AUS) d. [SR] S. Sanders (AUS) / L. Stefani (BRA) 61 61
QF –  I. Swiatek (POL) d.  C. Gauff (USA) 60 63
QF –  J. Pegula (USA) d. M. Keys (USA) 64 75
QF – [Q] D. Vekic (CRO) d.  A. Sabalenka 64 67(5) 61
QF – D. Collins (USA) d.  P. Badosa (ESP) 76(5) 64
STADIUM COURT starts at 12:00 PM
 N. Melichar-Martinez (USA) / E. Perez (AUS) vs  G. Dabrowski (CAN) / G. Olmos (MEX)
NB 2:00 PM  I. Swiatek (POL) vs  J. Pegula (USA)
[Q] D. Vekic (CRO) vs D. Collins (USA)
 C. Gauff (USA) / J. Pegula (USA) vs  D. Krawczyk (USA) / D. Schuurs (NED)