Watch: Iga Swiatek's first-ever on-court appearance at Japan Open causes fans to tear up
Iga Swiatek is playing in Japan for the first time in her career, and fans could not hold back their emotions when she took to the court for her Round of 16 match at the Japan Open on September 27.
Swiatek faced home player Mai Hontama after receiving a first-round bye, and some fans inside Tokyo's Ariake Coliseum were overwhelmed to see the Pole. Many of them holding 'IGA' placards were in tears and had their phones out to capture the special moment.
Swiatek took some time to get used to the new playing conditions as Hontama raced to a 4-1 lead in the first set. But the World No. 2 hit back with five straight games to win the set 6-4.
The second set was another close tussle between the two women as they traded breaks throughout, but Swiatek eventually came through to win the match 6-4, 7-5.
She reflected on her early woes in Tokyo during the on-court interview, saying she needed to "wake up" after going down early. However, the 22-year-old was pleased with her problem-solving ability, which she said helped her win a tough match.
"For sure, I felt like I didn’t start well. I needed to wake up and I’m glad that I did that, because for sure winning five games in a row in the first set really showed me that I could play my game. It wasn’t easy, but I’m happy that I problem-solved and just got through the match," she said.
Iga Swiatek to face Veronika Kudermetova in Japan Open quarterfinals
Iga Swiatek's next opponent at the Japan Open is a familiar foe in the form of No. 8 seed Veronika Kudermetova.
The two women have faced each other four times on the WTA tour, with Swiatek comfortably winning all the matches in straight sets. They last met in the semifinal of the Madrid Open in May, when Swiatek dispatched the Russian 6-1, 6-1.
Kudermetova advanced to the quarterfinals in Japan after bettering Harriet Dart 6-3, 7-6 (4) and Kayla Day 6-3, 6-3. This is Kudermetova's ninth quarterfinal of the year and first since the Berlin Open in June, where she withdrew against Ekaterina Alexandrova.
As for Iga Swiatek, this is her 12th quarterfinal of the 2023 WTA tour. She last reached the quarterfinals at the Western and Southern Open, before losing to eventual champion Coco Gauff in the semis.
The Polish sensation came to Japan after failing to defend her US Open crown (losing in the fourth round), which also saw her lose the World No. 1 ranking to Aryna Sabalenka.