16-year-old Iga Swiatek means business in Charleston


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16-year-old Iga Swiatek means business in Charleston

Iga Swiatek is one of the most talented youngsters on the WTA Tour at the moment and certainly the one to keep an eye on in the years to come. Born in May 2001, the Pole is already ranked inside the Top 450 and she is the fourth best player of her generation after Amanda Anisimova, Anastasia Potapova and Olga Danilovic, looking to enter the Top 400 after a great run in Charleston this week. Iga has won only the second ITF junior event she has entered in 2015, still at the age of 13, followed by more success by the end of the season.

In the summer of 2016, she defeated Olga Danilovic in the final of the Canadian Open Junior Championships and Marta Kostyuk in the title match at the AGL Loy Yang Traralgon Junior International in January 2017, ending her junior career at Roland Garros last year.

Her focus has been on the professional tournaments and for the reason, winning the title at the first pro main draw she entered, at $10,000 Stockholm even in 2016 when she was still 15. Iga didn't stop there and she claimed two titles in 2017 and two so far in 2018, looking good to go all the way in Charleston this week and claim by far the biggest title of her career. Competing in her second tournament above $25,000 level (she lost in the first round last week in Charlottesville) Iga scored six commanding wins so far in Charleston to reach the semi-final, dropping 12 games in three qualifying matches and keeping that form in the main draw as well.

Swiatek proved to be too good for Emma Navarro, Mariana Duque-Marino and Irina Falconi, dominating in all three matches to lose 12 games in total and reach the semi-final in the best possible manner, her seventh in the pro career and by far the biggest one.

She wrapped up all of her wins in under an hour and a half, preserving the energy for today's clash against the top seed Madison Brengle. Iga needed just 69 minutes to dismiss the 8th seed Irina Falconi 6-3 6-1, losing her twice despite serving at only 46%.

Her return game was mighty impressive, winning 28 out of 43 points in Falconi's games and claiming six breaks from nine opportunities to control the scoreboard all the time. The Pole struggled a bit in the opening set but she kept herself in front to claim the set with three straight breaks of serve, sailing through set number two to book her place in the last four.

Irina saved two break points in the second game of the match and she stole rival's serve in the following game to take an early lead. Iga broke back at 15 in the very next game but she was yet to find the pace behind her initial shot, wasting four game points before Falconi broke again on the fourth break chance to open up a 3-2 gap.

Swiatek was in the better mood on the return, earning another break at 15 in game six to erase her deficit and she fends off two break points in game seven for a 4-3 lead. Irina was unable to impose her shots on serve and Iga broke her for the third straight time in game eight to move 5-3 ahead and she held at 15 a few minutes later to grab the opener 6-3.

After two easy holds on both sides at the start of the second set Iga took charge and she never looked back, breaking the American three times in a row to rattle off the last six games and cross the finish line to stay on the title course.

Iga broke at love with a volley winner in game three and again in game five when Irina's backhand landed long. Swiatek played better and better as the match progressed and she sealed the deal with a backhand down the line winner in game seven, looking for more of the same in the rest of the tournament.

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