Iga Swiatek, the Polish tennis player, faced a tough challenge in the early rounds of the Toray Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo but managed to advance to the quarter-finals after an intense battle against Japan’s Mai Hontama.
Swiatek, who recently suffered an early exit from the US Open and relinquished her position as the WTA ranking leader, was determined to make a comeback. Seeded number one in Tokyo, she received a favorable draw in the first round. However, her second-round encounter with Mai Hontama (148th WTA) proved to be a much more formidable challenge than anticipated.
The match got off to a surprising start as Hontama managed to break Swiatek’s serve in the third game, taking an early lead of 4-1 in the first set. The Polish player struggled to find her rhythm, committing an unusual number of unforced errors, but she managed to stage an impressive comeback, winning five games in a row. After a hard-fought 59 minutes, Swiatek clinched the first set.
In the second set, Hontama initially broke Swiatek’s serve, but the Pole responded with determination, securing a commanding 5-1 lead. However, Hontama staged a late comeback, narrowing the score to 5-4. Swiatek faced two match points in the tenth game, but Hontama’s resilience allowed her to break the 22-year-old.
Swiatek eventually found her rhythm when it mattered most, using a strong serve to claim a 6-5 lead. With two match points in hand once more, she seized the opportunity and triumphed in the second-round match after over two hours of intense play.
Despite the early struggles, Iga Swiatek’s tenacity and determination prevailed, allowing her to secure a spot in the quarter-finals of the Toray Pan Pacific Open. This marks her debut in this tournament, and she is now considered the favorite to triumph in Tokyo. Her next challenge will be Veronika Kudermetova as she continues her quest for glory in Japan.