Despite Major Troubles Swiatek Wins Her First Match Since US Open Disappointment

Despite Major Troubles Swiatek Wins Her First Match Since US Open Disappointment

by Erik Virostko

Iga Swiatek experienced major difficulties in her second-round match at the 2023 Japan Open, but she eventually pulled through.

Taking on a home player is never easy, and that's something that the Polish player had to deal with at the WTA 500 tournament in Tokyo, taking on world no. 148, Mai Hontama, in front of a packed stadium.

The Japanese player went through the qualifying, and also won her first-round match, beating three fellow compatriots along the way. But nothing could prepare her for the challenge that lied ahead, as she took on former world no. 2.

Despite spending 100 consecutive weeks in the Top 10, Swiatek isn't the world no. 1 on the WTA Tour anymore, and her goal in the coming weeks will be very clear, regain the top spot. She certainly entered the second-round match in Tokyo with this goal in her mind, but it wasn't an ideal start.

Hontama gave the home fans what they came for. She broke her opponent's serve two times, while also saving two break points, building a quick 4-1 lead in the opening set. Yet, that wouldn't last for too long.

Despite having a 30-15 lead in the sixth game, and a 40-0 lead in the eighth game, and also a 40-30 lead in the tenth game, Hontama couldn't win any of these games, as Swiatek won five consecutive games, storming to the first-set win, 6-4.

The second set proved to be even more interesting. Initially, Hontama broke again to lead 1-0, but Swiatek then won five consecutive games in what seemed to be another dominant set by the Polish player, who at this time, already led 6-4 and 5-1, but things were about to get complicated.

The Japanese player won four games in a row, even saving two match points along the way, and it seemed that a tie-break would have to decide the second set. Yet, Swiatek improved her level once more, to win the second set 7-5, and the match 6-4, 7-5, and set up a quarterfinal clash with the eighth-seeded Veronika Kudermetova.


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