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Reigning US Open champion Emma Raducanu faces world No 1 Iga Swiatek for the first time at professional level as the tour’s youngest active major champions meet in the quarter-finals of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart today.
The British No 1 dug deep to win 6-0 2-6 6-1 against Germany’s Tamara Korpatsch, who is ranked 118th, in the last 16 to set up the clash with Swiatek. Victory against Korpatsch was the first time Raducanu had won back-to-back games in 2022, after overcoming Storm Sanders in round one.
Meanwhile, today’s opponent, Swiatek, booked her spot in her sixth quarter-final of the season by defeating German qualifier Eva Lys 6-1 6-1 in her opening match.
The Polish sensation replaced Ashleigh Barty as the top player in women’s tennis after the Australian announced her retirement from tennis at the age of just 25 last month, revealing in an Instagram video that she has “other dreams” to chase that “don’t necessarily” involve travelling the world and being away from her home and family.
Playing her first WTA tournament as the new world No 1, Swiatek brings with her a 20-match winning streak and is bidding to make her sixth semi-final of the year and first in Stuttgart.
The 2020 French Open champion has made an incredible start to the 2022 season, winning three consecutive WTA 1000 events in Doha, Indian Wells and Miami.
The world No 1’s remarkable form is made even more impressive when you note the only two players younger than Swiatek to win 20 or more consecutive matches since 2000 are 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams (35 matches in 2000) and her sister Venus Williams (21 matches in 2002).
World No 12 Raducanu is facing a top-10 player for the first time in her career and the 20-year-old Pole will be a sharp rise in class.
When discussing today’s opponent, Raducanu - who is competing in her first WTA Tour event on clay in Stuttgart - insisted there is no “pressure” on her.
“Iga’s in great form. She’s won all the tournaments recently, she’s no 1 in the world and clay is one of her best surfaces. For me it’s a complete swing tomorrow. I’ve got no expectations or pressure. I’m just going to go out there and see what happens,” explained Raducanu.
Swiatek has been ruthless so far this season, winning a remarkable 28 consecutive sets heading into Friday’s quarter-final against the Briton.
She has only lost once to a player ranked inside the top 20 in 2022, when she tasted defeat to the then world No 1 Ashleigh Barty, in Adelaide.
But the 20-year-old maintains, despite her recent dominance, that performance is her top priority.
“For sure they’re giving me confidence and I’m pretty happy that I’m consistent and I’m not letting my opponents play their game,” she explained. “But honestly, it’s not like I’m proud of the score, I’m more proud of the whole win and the performance.
“If I would have thoughts [about not wanting to lose games] it would mean I’m really not focused. The best kind of tennis for me is when I don’t even know what the score is. Even when I have a thought like that, I’m like, Oh my god Iga, come back to what’s important. Performance is the thing I want to focus on so I don’t even care about the scores,” said Swiatek.
The pair were both teenagers when they made their major breakthroughs and were both ranked well outside the top 50 on their way to victory.
But for Raducanu that is where is the similairities end: “Iga had been playing tennis full time for years before,” she told WTA Insider.
“She was on the ITF Tour, she was on the WTA Tour. I hadn’t played for 18 months, was sitting for my exams, and didn’t really play that many tournaments or trained very much. I was training like three times a week for 10 hours a week last year. So right now it’s about building robustness for sure, playing matches week in and week out.
“You can’t really compare the journeys because we’ve had different pathways. Since she won the Slam she’s done extremely well and remained consistent. I’m not sure when that will happen for me but I’m sure I’ll get there.”
The two have met once before back at the junior event at 2018 Wimbledon. Swiatek defeated Raducanu 6-0 6-1 in the quarter-finals and went on to win her sole junior singles title.
When asked her recollection of the game Raducanu said: “I erased it from my memory (laughs).”
Swiatek and Raducanu play today from around 5.30pm BST on Centre Court in Stuttgart and you can watch on Amazon Prime.