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‘Bondi Beach here we come’: Swiatek leads Poland into United Cup semis

PERTH (AFP) — Top-ranked Poland overpowered China on Wednesday, Jan. 3, with Hubert Hurkacz and Iga Swiatek propelling them into the United Cup semifinals with a singles sweep.

Poland’s Iga Swiatek hits a return against China’s Qinwen Zheng during their women’s singles match at the United Cup tennis tournament in Perth on Wednesday, Jan. 3. (AFP)

The pair of straight-set victories in Perth put the tie out of reach and sent the Poles into a clash against either Norway or France in Sydney.

Adrian Mannarino and Caroline Garcia had earlier pushed France into a last eight tie against the Norwegians with victory over Italy.

Hurkacz secured a clinical 6-3, 6-4 defeat of Zhang Zhizhen before world number one Swiatek followed up, winning nine games on the trot at one point to beat Zheng Qinwen 6-2, 6-3 despite losing serve twice.

Swiatek was eager to get to Sydney as the first nation to qualify for the semifinals of the 18-nation mixed team tournament.

“Bondi Beach here we come,” she said, after swatting aside Zheng who was the 2023 WTA Most Improved Player. “I’m looking forward to a day off.

“I’m really happy with my game, and also how the atmosphere in the team is,” added Swiatek.

“I really feel like we can just be better when we’re together, so for sure playing (with Hurkacz) is an exciting thing to do, and I’m real happy with every match that I play here.”

Hurkacz fired 10 aces as he dismissed Chinese number one Zhang.

“It’s always a tough match with him. He can play some amazing shots,” the winner said.

Novak Djokovic-led Serbia will take on Australia in Perth to join Poland in the last four later Wednesday.

The 24-time Grand Slam champion needed treatment on a sore wrist during his win over the Czech Republic’s Jiri Lehecka on Tuesday and faces another tough task against Australian number one Alex de Minaur.

‘Went my way’

In Sydney, journeyman Mannarino, who enjoyed his best-ever season last year, swept past Lorenzo Sonego 6-4, 6-4 before Garcia overcame a stubborn Jasmine Paolini 6-4, 5-7, 6-4.

It gave France an unassailable 2-0 lead to put them into the knockout rounds.

The last quarterfinal slot will be decided when Greece meets Canada, with the winner facing the best runner-up from group play in Sydney.

The Sydney quarterfinals are played on Thursday and Friday before the semis on Saturday and the final a day later.

The 35-year-old Mannarino won titles at Astana, Newport and Sofia last season to clock a personal best 43 wins, propelling him to a career-high 22.

After opening his season with a loss to world number seven Alexander Zverev, the no-frills Frenchman proved too hot for 46th-ranked Sonego on a scorching day at Ken Rosewall Arena.

“It’s always a tough match with him and in the second set I felt it could go either way,” Mannarino said. “I was lucky at four-all to go the break up and everything went my way today.”

The Frenchman did not face a break point and was solid throughout, especially on second serve, winning 13 of 18 points.

Garcia, who has slipped to 20 in the rankings after hitting a career-high four in 2018, finished the job against Paolini.

But the 29th-ranked Italian refused to go quietly, pushing it to three hard sets over 2hr 16min before Garcia served to love and banked the victory.

Credit belongs to : www.mb.com.ph

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