(Indian Wells) As we meet again… the defending champion Iga Swiatek has taken the highway leading to the semi-finals in Indian Wells, where she will try to take her revenge on Elena Rybakina, who eliminated her in January at the International ‘Australia.

There will be revenge in the air on Friday in the California desert, where the world No.1 of Poland warned her future opponent: “She’s playing very well, but I’ll be ready. The last time we faced each other, the conditions were totally different. I will be 100%.”

The other poster of the last four will oppose the Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka (2nd), euphoric since her first major coronation in Melbourne, to Maria Sakkari (7th), finalist of the event last year.

At the time, the Greek had been powerless against Swiatek, then in the midst of an unbeaten period which lasted 37 games, from Doha in February to Wimbledon in July, with a triumph at Roland-Garros in the process.

The 21-year-old Pole, who went on to win the U.S. Open, isn’t as compelling in the first quarter of 2023, but she’s undeniably on the rise in Indian Wells, where she’s chasing a double only Martina Navratilova succeeded in 1991-92.

Romanian Sorana Cirstea (83rd), who had thwarted the predictions against Frenchwoman Caroline Garcia (5th) in the previous round, paid the price, swept away 6-2, 6-3 in 1:22. A score that could have been even more severe if she had not taken her opponent’s service once per set, to delay the deadline

“I started every run well and finished cleanly. I am happy to have put a big intensity. I feel like I’m managing pretty well (being the defending champion, editor’s note) and just playing my game, “summarized Swiatek, after his 16th victory of the season, all obtained in straight sets.

Earlier, Elena Rybakina (10th) was the first Kazakh to open the doors of a half in Indian Wells, with more difficulties to overcome 7-6 (7/4), 2-6, 6-4 from the Czech Karolina Muchova (76th).

“It was a very difficult game today. I hadn’t started the game very well, I was a little slower than usual. But I ended up serving much better in the third set and in the important moments I played well,” said the 23-year-old, Wimbledon winner last year.

Facing Muchova, who had won their first confrontation at the United States Open in 2019, she indeed gave up a set for the first time in the tournament, after having to unbreak in the first, then erase a set point at 5- 4, to finally make the difference in the decisive game.

The Kazakh, an Australian Open runner-up in January, regained the upper hand in the final set, managing to tighten up her game and pick up the pace. But she had to be patient, missing two match points on an opposing service, before concluding on the third with an ace, her sixth of the match, after 2:46.

Two quarter-finals for men complete the program of the day.

The Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz, who can become world No.1 again if he wins the tournament, will face the Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime (10th) at night. The winner will meet in the last four with the American Taylor Fritz (5th), defending champion, or the Italian Jannik Sinner (13th) opposed in the Californian afternoon.