World No. 1 Iga Swiatek comes from behind to defeat Jule Niemeier, advancing to US Open quarterfinals
CHICAGO — The first set of the match was tight; then, all of a sudden, it was over.
Jule Niemiier looked like she was in cruise control from start to finish, while Iga Swiatek did little to respond.
It was all over.
Niemiier’s season is over. She had survived a number of close calls. She had survived an amazing comeback in the quarterfinals at the US Open against Kim Na-young.
But she couldn’t survive this one.
Niemiier was unable to hold up to the aggressive forehand from Iga, and an impetuous forehand return got her on the wrong side of a ball. Niemiier fell forward on the court and couldn’t get up again. She was done.
Swiatek had been the aggressor from the opening point, the player everyone assumed would go all the way into the finals. She had defeated Maria Sanchez 6-2, 6-0, 6-1 and Maria Sharapova 6-2, 6-2, 6-0 to advance to the final on the strength of her amazing record in this tournament, her best start to a major since beating Li Na 6-2, 7-5, 6-4 in the 2005 Wimbledon final.
But Iga was more impressive than anyone had predicted.
The 22-year-old from Estonia had fought her way out of an early slump. When she lost to Sharapova at the start of the year, she was down in the rankings. Iga had moved up to No. 9. She had reached the quarterfinals in two of her past three tournaments, and she was making her first career quarterfinal.
Her victory over Kim, meanwhile, was a huge step up. Iga had reached the last eight in three consecutive tournaments, including the US Open semifinals, but had then lost to her compatriot Sharapova in her third round.
Iga was playing extremely well when she started to look her age. She made a run in the first set against Sanchez, breaking her serve six times and winning six of eight games.
But she couldn’t handle the pressure against Kim, and