Iga Swiatek has “evolved so much” since winning the French Open in 2020 as she homes in on a first Australian Open title, according to Eurosport expert Barbara Schett.
For the first time since her run to the Roland Garros trophy, the Polish seventh seed has reached a major semi-final after seeing off Kaia Kanepi in the last eight in Melbourne.
It was a battle of the generations on Rod Laver Arena as Swiatek, 20, took on 36-year-old Kanepi, who took the first set and fought back in the second to force a tie-break.
WTA Toronto
Swiatek suffers shock exit to Haddad Maia in marathon Toronto clash
11/08/2022 AT 22:22
But Swiatek came through the breaker before pulling clear in a topsy-turvy decider, eventually winning 4-6 7-6(2) 6-3.
She signed off the quarter-final with an outrageous display of defence, making four staggering gets from well behind the baseline as she converted her second match point.
“The last point was pretty weird, I don’t think I’ve played any point like that in my life,” Swiatek told Eurosport in the Cube.
“I was pretty glad that I was fighting until the end and able to overcome all the doubts that I had in the first set, think what I did wrong and change it. I was pretty proud of myself.
“It’s pretty new for me, coming back from losing the first set. Even though these matches were long, during them I can actually show that I’m really prepared physically.
“I had to change some stuff to win the other sets. It’s a lot of experience and confidence for me.”
Swiatek, who scribbled “that was stressful” on the camera lens after seeing off Kanepi, also fought back from a set down to beat Romania’s Sorana Cirstea in the fourth round.

'Extraordinary' - Swiatek shows incredible defence to win match over Kanepi

'She's going strong, love it!'

Schett praised Swiatek’s resilience after she tweaked her tactics to haul herself back into the contest with Kanepi.
“She’s a great problem solver now. In the last year she has evolved so much, mentally and tactically on the court,” Schett said from Melbourne Park.
“You could see after she lost the first set against Kanepi that she was stepping in the court, closer to the baseline, taking the ball earlier and trying to get back in control of the rallies. She’s done that extremely well.
“You could see at the end of the match how relieved she was, she shed a few tears once again out there. She’s going strong I have to say, love it!”
Schett continued: “In the past, she always felt more comfortable on a clay court.
“She was also sometimes a bit late with that forehand wing. Now she moves better, physically she’s got a lot stronger and she’s got a lot smarter.
“Last year was a big learning curve and now she can mix it up. She can flatten that forehand out, she can still play that spin, she throws in those forehand and backhand cross-court angles which I would love to see a little bit more. She is evolving month by month.
“I actually had a chat with her sports psychologist. They are working so hard each day. The sports psychologist is following her everywhere on the tour and I find it great because there are a lot of thoughts going on in her head each time she plays – and you can tell because she worries out there, she feels confident, she feels sad, there are so many different emotions she goes through.
“She’s really trying to improve that and work on that. They are on the right track.”
Swiatek will meet American Danielle Collins in the last four after the 27th seed saw off Alize Cornet 7-5 6-1 in her quarter-final.

'I had to change some stuff' – Swiatek on masterminding Kanepi comeback

'Iga is very complete'

Mats Wilander also praised Swaitek's problem-solving abilities and said they were a rare skill for someone so young.
“She’s young so I like that she’s willing to problem solve,” said Wilander.
“We just saw Jannik Sinner [in defeat against Stefanos Tsitsipas] when he wasn’t really able to problem solve, or he didn’t try to do anything different.
“But Iga is very complete. Her basic tactic is to try and be as aggressive as possible.
“She couldn’t do it today against Kanepi and then she changed and forced herself to be inside the baseline. It’s the variation of the forehand that I really like, it allows her to do different things whereas other players don’t really have that forehand so they cannot change as much.”
Meanwhile, Tim Henman believes that Swiatek's ability to win a major quarter-final without hitting top form is "the sign of a great player".
“I like the way she can play extremely well on all surfaces,” he said.
“That early success at the French Open was when she was very young but she’s very mature on the court.
“Today was a classic example where she didn’t play her best tennis, but it’s about finding a way to win and she clung in there in the important moments in that second set tie-break.
“It’s the sign of a great player when you can win not playing your best in the latter stages of a Grand Slam.”

'This match was crazy!' - Overjoyed Swiatek reacts to reaching Australian Open semi-finals

- - -
Stream the 2022 Australian Open live and on demand on discovery+. A subscription for discovery+ is now £29.99 for the first year for UK users, down from £59.99
WTA Toronto
Swiatek thrashes Tomljanovic to progress to Toronto last 16
10/08/2022 AT 18:36
WTA Toronto
Improving, not just winning, on Swiatek's mind ahead of Toronto opener
10/08/2022 AT 09:11