MELBOURNE (Reuters) -Seventh seed Iga Swiatek said she had to overcome nerves to stage a comeback from a set down to edge Romania’s Sorana Cirstea in a baseline slugfest on Monday and reach her first Australian Open quarter-final.
In a match which regularly witnessed a change in momentum, the 20-year-old Swiatek held on to win the last three games of the deciding set with two breaks of serve to seal a 5-7 6-3 6-3 victory on a floodlit Margaret Court Arena.
“She put a lot of pressure on me. I just had to overcome some doubts that I had,” the Pole told reporters. “I did that pretty well.
“These kind of matches are going to give me a lot of confidence for the future because coming back from losing in first set and against a player who’s constantly going forward, it’s pretty hard, and I did that.”
Swiatek, who won the French Open title in 2020, came into her first meeting against the 38th-ranked Cirstea in dominant form, having not lost a set at the Melbourne Park Grand Slam in her three matches last week.
But Cirstea, 31, put her under pressure for the first time in the tournament with some heavy hitting from the back of the court and Swiatek had to dig deep to find her way back into the contest and reach the last eight.
Swiatek sealed the contest on the first matchpoint with her 29th winner and will meet Belarusian second seed Aryna Sabalenka or Kaia Kanepi of Estonia for a place in the last four.
Swiatek was very emotional on court after the match.
“Handling the stress was the key, because I felt like I was pretty tight today,” she said. “I had to get over with it and just try to play my game. In important moments, I feel like I did that.
“I was just constantly focused on what’s going on right now and not thinking about the mistakes I did before… at the end I just wanted to look forward, which was pretty hard to do, but it worked.”
(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly; Editing By Ken Ferris and Clare Fallon)