MELBOURNE, Australia —
Seventh-seeded Iga Swiatek rallied to beat 36-year-old Kaia Kanepi 4-6, 7-6 (2), 6-3 on Wednesday and move into an Australian Open semifinal against Danielle Collins.
The 20-year-old, 2020 French Open winner took 3 hours in temperatures reaching 36 degrees Celsius (97 degrees Fahrenheit) to secure her spot in the final four in her third trip to Melbourne Park.
Collins won the opening match on Rod Laver Arena, swinging it in her favor with a key service break in the final game of the opening set on her way to a 7-5, 6-1 victory over Alize Cornet.
No. 115-ranked Kanepi made her Grand Slam debut in 2006 but was playing in the quarterfinals in Australia for the first time, completing a career set after making it to the last eight twice at each of the sport’s three other major tournaments.
She was coming off an upset, three-set win over No. 2-ranked Aryna Sabalenka and took the game to Swiatek, who saved nine set points before losing the first set.
Swiatek rallied in the second, exchanging service breaks twice before winning it in a tiebreaker.
There was another exchange of breaks early in the third set and Swiatek was broken again when she was serving for the match in the eighth game. She eventually clinched on Kanepi’s serve, scrambling to stay in the point until the Estonian player sent a forehand wide.
“This match was crazy,” Swiatek said. “First set I think my mistake was I had so many break points, I felt like I missed my chances. In the second set, I felt like she’s playing so fast that I can’t be tight. I had to finish my forehands.“
After the first three quarterfinals were decided in straight sets — Ash Barty beat Jessica Pegula and Madison Keys beat Barbora Krejcikova on Tuesday — the last one took a minute over 3 hours.
Collins’ win means there are two Americans in the last four. Keys, the 2017 U.S. Open runner-up, will play reigning Wimbledon and 2019 French Open winner Barty.
Swiatek of Poland is the only one of the four in the Australian Open semifinals for the first time. Collins lost to Petra Kvitova in the semifinals here in 2019, which remains her best run to date at a major. Keys lost to Serena Williams in 2015 and Barty lost a semifinal in 2020 to eventual champion Sofia Kenin.
Collins underwent surgery last year to treat endometriosis, a condition that had caused her severe pain during tournaments in 2021.
“It feels incredible, especially after some of the health challenges I’ve had,” Collins said in her post-match interview. “To be able to get back to this level and be able to compete like the way I have been and being able to be as physical as I haven’t been so rewarding.”
For Cornet, the loss ended a career-best run. The quarterfinal was her first in 63 Grand Slam main draw appearances. The WTA predicts that the 32-year-old Cornet should return to the top 50.
Cornet said Collins was “very powerful, even more than what I expected.”
“I felt out of breath all the time. I couldn’t, like, play my game,“ Cornet said. “She just never let me do it, never gave me the time.”
Later Wednesday, U.S. Open champion Daniil Medvedev was expecting to face one of the toughest challenges to his bid to collect a second consecutive Grand Slam singles title when he plays 21-year-old Felix Auger-Aliassime in a night match.
Fourth-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas faces Jannik Sinner in the other men’s quarterfinal.
The men’s semifinals are both set for Friday, with Rafael Nadal and Matteo Berrettini already locked in from the top half of the draw.