Maria Sakkari ended Paula Badosa's bid for a repeat title at Indian Wells, beating the defending champion to set up a final clash with former French Open winner Iga Swiatek.

Maria Sakkari of Greece serves to Paula Badosa of Spain during the semifinals of the BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden on March 18, 2022 in Indian Wells, California.
Maria Sakkari of Greece serves to Paula Badosa of Spain during the semifinals of the BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden on March 18, 2022 in Indian Wells, California. (AFP)

Iga Swiatek rallied from a break down in each set to beat Simona Halep 7-6 (6), 6-4 and reach the final of the BNP Paribas Open.

Maria Sakkari outlasted defending champion Paula Badosa 6-2, 4-6, 6-1 on Saturday and will play Swiatek in Sunday's final. Swiatek is assured of reaching a new career-high of either No. 2 or No. 3 in the world depending on the outcome. 

Swiatek saved two set points in the first-set tiebreaker when she overcame deficits of 3-1 and 5-3. She won the final four points, with Halep committing errors on three of those points, before Swiatek cracked a forehand winner off Halep’s second serve. Halep received a racket abuse warning for smashing her racket on the court.

Swiatek took a 2-1 lead in the second set that featured five service breaks. Halep took a medical timeout and had a trainer wrap her upper left thigh.

Halep then broke Swiatek twice while taking the next three games for a 4-2 lead. But Swiatek took over from there. She won the last four games in a row, with Halep winning just four points total on her serve while getting broken twice. 

“We had like the longest rallies I played here,” Swiatek said. “At the beginning I had to adjust a little bit to the new rhythm because Simona was for sure playing good than my opponents in previous rounds, and I’m pretty proud that I did that. Mentally, I was pretty strong.”

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Fritz beats Kecmanovic

On the men's side, Taylor Fritz defeated Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia, 7-6 (5), 3-6, 6-1 to reach the semifinals for the second time in five months.

The 24-year-old American is in the midst of the best stretch of his young career, and it all began in the desert in October. That's when the tournament was held last year, pushed out of its traditional March spot because of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

In 2021, Fritz came into Indian Wells ranked 39th in the world. He beat top-10 players Matteo Berrettini and Alexander Zverev before losing in the semis to Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia.

He's now No. 20 – having reached a career-high 16th in February – and is 24-8 since last year's tournament. He's made the quarterfinals in five tournaments and reached the fourth round of a Grand Slam tournament for the first time in January at the Australian Open.

“Things are starting to come together,” he said. “I feel like my level as a player has gone up a ton.” 

Fritz has recorded many milestones at Indian Wells, where he's always a crowd favorite. He first began coming to the event as a kid, having grown up near San Diego as the son of former WTA Tour player Kathy May.

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Fritz made his debut in a Masters 1000 main draw at Indian Wells and notched his first top-10 win here in 2017. His father, Guy Fritz, is a former ATP Tour pro who coaches the men's tennis team at the nearby College of the Desert.

Source: AP