Iga Swiatek vs Veronika Kudermetova and Jessica Pegula vs is the line-up of Friday's semifinals of WTA 500 Qatar TotalEnergies Open in Doha. The on-court action in Doha so far brought some emotions and settlements which were surprisingly one-sided as well.
The world's number 1 came back to action after 3 weeks out of competition, facing Danielle Collins in her first appearance on Wednesday. The American, who defeated Elise Mertens in first round, was considered as the one who can make some trouble for Swiatek, knowing her aggresive style of play, and the fates of their last meeting in Australian Open's semifinal 2022, confidently won by Collins in straight sets. Swiatek, of course, was still a favorite of this duel, but no one could expect, that this match will be such a one-way traffic show. Collins started really slow, being apparently apathetic, struggling with hitting into the court with almost every shot. This could no bring any serious chances in a battle against Swiatek, who was playing just very solid throughout whole the match. The Pole showed an impressive serving performance, being almost flawless and very reliable on serve, recording some impressive serve speeds more than 180 km/h and not giving any single breakpoint chance for her opponent. The first set was ended with a score 6-0 for Swiatek with just 4 single points won by Collins in 21 minutes. The second one was a little bit more competitive, with a few decent rallies between both, but it was still just a shade of "Danimal", who was visibly struggling with having a bad day on the court. 6-0 6-1 in 54 minutes was enough for Swiatek to advance into... semifinal.
This was caused by the QF's withdrawal of Belinda Bencic who appeared in Qatar just after winning the WTA 500 tournament in Abu Dhabi on last Sunday. Her new campaign in Doha started with a huge come back in a top clash match against Victoria Azarenka. The Belarusian was 6-1 4-1 up with a double break advantage in second set. The match was a real one-sided show since the turnover which came true since the 6th game of second set. Bencic came back to the match with making two breaks in a row, moving second set into tie-break which she won 7-4. Third set started with a break for Bencic who capitalized on her momentum and did not faced any single breakpoint till the end of a match. Impressive stuff from Bencic, who earned another big win in her great 2023 season so far. 2:45 hours after an intensive week in UAE was seemingly enough regarding the fatigue tough, as Bencic pulled out of the tournament after this. It is quite a disappointment, as the match between Swiatek and in-form Bencic could be a delightful tennis spectacle.
Veronika Kudermetova will be Swiatek's semifinal's opponent. The Russian started her tournament on Monday, defeating Barbora Krejcikova in an exciting three-setter, decided in tie-break, won by Kudermetova 7-5 after 3:02 hours of battle. Then, the world's number 11 prevailed against two Americans. 6-2 7-5 against wild-card receiver Sofia Kenin and another three-setter in the QF - this time against Cori Gauff. 6-2 3-6 6-1 for Kudermetova who was unbeatable in the deciding set, setting herself up for the big challenge against Swiatek on Friday.
Jessica Pegula was almost out of the tournament in the very difficult battle against Jelena Ostapenko in Round of 16. The world's number 3 won the opening set easily 6-2, but struggled in second one and deciding set was needed. It has started well for the Latvian who broke Pegula early and was heading into the quarterfinal holding the following service games with confidence. Pegula broke back in 9th game, but faced two match-points within own serve in the next one, defending both very well, and gaining another and decisive break in 11th game. Big waste from Ostapenko and huge confidence injection for Pegula, who capitalized on her great win with defeating Beatriz Haddad Maia in quarterfinal 6-3 6-2. The Brazilian had hell of a draw, facing Paula Badosa in first round (7-6 6-3) and Daria Kasatkina in round of 16 (6-3 7-6). That was the end of her run though, as Pegula showed again a brilliant form, similar to the performances from United Cup or the opening rounds of Australian Open.