Elena Rybakina and Jelena Ostapenko will compete for the final spot out of all the players from top half of main draw in the WTA 1000 Internazionali BNL D'Italia. The Kazakh scored her third consecutive win over Iga Swiatek in the year 2023. This match was not completed though, as the Pole has pulled out during the third set due to a thigh injury.
Swiatek, who was on a good path for the third consecutive title in Foro Italico, was also a confident pre-match favorite ahead of the meeting with Rybakina, despite the fact that the reigning Wimbledon champion has eliminated her already in Australian Open and Indian Wells, both times in relatively easy straight sets. This match has completely different turn of events from the start, as Swiatek has purely dominated Rybakina in the opening set. The world ranking's leader has quickly build up the double break cushion by moving up into 4-0 lead and controled this set till the end, winning with a score 6-2. The second one has also started well for Swiatek, who earned the break in the opening game and was really close to kill this match in 7th game, while having a breakpoint for moving up into 5-2 lead with a double break advantage. This has not happened and the match has surprisingly turned over. Rybakina did not create any single breakpoint up to this point, but managed to break her opponent right after the crucial hold and leveled the score in 8th game of second set. This has not discouraged Swiatek too much though, as the Pole did not stop to put an immense pressure on Rybakina and created another breakpoints in 9th and 11th game. The world's number 6 showed the nerves of steel, as she managed to hold both those games and forced the tiebreak after defending 6 breakpoints in the last 3 service games in this set. Rybakina got awarded for her resistance, as she won the last 4 points of the tiebreak and has sensationally forced the decisive set, almost out of nowhere. This was not the biggest event of the 13th though, as Swiatek has clearly suffered during the really within a score 3-5 from her perspective, feeling the pain under her knee. As it panned out, the pain has started to constantly naggling Swiatek in the third set and the Pole decided to pull out despite being leveled 2-2 on the score in the decider.
"It was a really tough match, especially the beginning. I would say I did not start that good. With Iga she was really aggressive from the beginning, she was more explosive, she was moving better. I was struggling with the first serve in the first set a lot, so it was not really helping me to play every time with a second serve. In the second set, I started to feel a little bit better. I was coming to this match without any expectations and I am just happy that in the second set I started to feel much better the forehand and started to move better. So I think it was just good from me overall no matter the result. Just happy to play another match and looking forward to it." - said Elena Rybakina in the post-match interview.
Jelena Ostapenko has showed the tennis performance close to her peak in the match against Paula Badosa. The Spaniard was a slight pre-match favorite there, but Ostapenko prevailed in three sets to advance into her first semifinal of the season with a score 6-2 4-6 6-3. The Latvian was on fire from the start, playing with offensive style and breaking Badosa's serve three times in a row from the start. Ostapenko has scored 16 winners in the opening set in compare to... zero made by her opponent, who was clearly for finding any response for a flawless game of the Roland Garros 2017 champion. The Spaniard has regrouped herself well in the second set though, being much more consistent on serve, and taking this set by gaining the break in 10th game. The decider brought another momentum switch though, as Ostapenko came back to the level from the start of this match and outplayed Badosa since the score 2-2 by gaining two breaks and crossing the finish line after just 1:50 hours. It was a really dynamic match as for the three-setter, but the final statistics says the truth about the image of play there, as Ostapenko was dictating the on-court terms by scoring 44 winners in compare to 32 unforced errors. The aggresive gameplan has paid off, as Badosa made just twice less unforced errors (16), but managed to scored just 8 winner throughout whole the match, which says a lot about the dominant performance of the Latvian.
The winner has shared her thoughts in the post-match interview: "This is one of my favorite tournaments. I really love playing here. I was never was more than in quarterfinals, and now, I am finally in the semifinals. Paula is a great player and I know she is such a fighter, so I expected a tough battle. The most important thing was to fight for every point. The match is only over when you shake hands, so even though some points and games did not go my way, I just managed it. I think I played well in deciding moments."