If I was to pick an Estonian in the quarterfinals of this year’s tournament at the start it won’t certainly have been Kaia Kanepi. Kaia’s path to this quarterfinal wasn’t the easiest. The unseeded player had to negotiate past Angelique Kerber in Round one and she beat fancied Aryna Sabalenka in the last round coming from a set down. Iga won a one and only Slam at Roland Garros in 2020 and hasn’t faced an opponent ranked higher than her so far which helps a lot. Kanepi has been around for a long time and at the ripe age of 36 she is making a real go at this year’s AO. That experience showed in the first set. With match going on serve at 3-3 she really went after Iga’s second serve. The Pole’s serve was very jittery in this match , double faulting 12 times. Check out 30-30 and the forehand return by Kanepi at 40-30. Not caught cleanly but it ended up being a fantastic shot to break serve. With a break to the good she consolidated, playing this shot at 4-3(40-15), the forehand cross court winner she applied well in the first set. Fairly comfortable set win for Kanepi 6-4.
The forehand was Kanepi’s go to shot in set one but her strongest shot is the two handed backhand. Iga could only applaud in set two first game 30-15 Kanepi on Iga’s serve. Another backhand winner won another break for Kanepi next point. Iga all of a sudden had her back to the wall. That was the pressure needed for her to produce her best tennis of the tournament. She fought to get the break back the very next game, unforced errors from Kanepi helped. My shot of the match came from her at 1-1 (30-30). In trouble pinned to the baseline, she produced awesome defense tennis to win the point with a passing shot forehand down the line, Kanepi a little hasty to come to the net. You can see Kanepi feeling the pressure of losing the serve. To her credit she eventually forced a tie break. The breaker was surprisingly one sided given the competitive nature of the second set. Four unforced errors from Kanepi on her way to losing it 7-2.
Swiatek had the momentum going into set three. Kanepi was just plain getting careless with her shots. Just watch the two wayward forehands on deuce, first game of the set. It wasn’t all Kanepi fighting Kanepi here. Iga was groundstroking her way to victory pretty well I think. Check out 1-0 Swiatek 40-30. Despite a brief part of the game when Iga let Kanepi in at 2-1 , it was Iga’s match to lose. When she went 5-2 up with a monster backhand cross court at 4-2 adv on deuce, I was ready to pack it in. Swiatek booking her place in the last 4 of the AO for the first time in her career. She faces surprise semi finalist Danielle Collins. Red hot favorite Ash Barty and Madison Keys complete the line up. Liking the USA’s chances this year.