Iga Swiatek lost already in her second match at the 2023 Japan Open in Tokyo, as she was upset by an inspired Veronika Kudermetova.
Only recently, Swiatek lost the world no. 1 spot to Aryna Sabalenka, but the Polish player certainly wants to reclaim the top spot on the WTA Tour. She will have a chance to do that in the coming weeks, but her Japan Open campaign at the WTA 500 tournament in Tokyo certainly didn’t help it.
After winning her first match against Japan’s Mai Hontama with major troubles, the 22-year-old faced a real challenge in the quarterfinals in the eighth-seeded Veronika Kudermetova. However, since the Polish player beat the Russian in all four of their previous meetings, even without losing a set, she was the favourite once again.
Yet, this time, the things were different. Kudermetova was determined to fight after two straight-sets wins over Harriet Dart and Kayla Day, and she flew into the match like never before.
After being unable to break Swiatek’s serve even once in their previous four matches, the Russian now broke her opponent’s serve twice in the first four games, and she looked to add the third break with a break point in the fifth game.
That would likely mean a bagel for Swiatek, who is actually the player who dished out the most bagels to her opponents in 2023. Yet, despite saving that break point, and having a chance to recover one of the breaks in the eighth game of the first set, the Polish player was unable to turn the first set around, losing it 2-6, while committing an incredible 20 unforced errors.
The second set saw a much better performance from Swiatek, who now wears On shoes on the court. The Polish player got an early break, and that seemed to be enough for her to become confident and calm on the court, adding one more break of serve to win the second set 6-2 and force the decider.
At this point, it seemed that Swiatek was controlling the match once again, but that was far from the truth. The Pole was broken once again at the start of the third set, and thanks to her powerful and precise serve, Kudermetova controlled the rest of the match.
The Russian player lost only five more points on her serve, across four games, and thanks to that, she was able to upset the world no. 2, winning 6-2, 2-6, 6-4, reaching the semifinals of the 2023 Japan Open in Tokyo against fellow compatriot Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.