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Hercog vs Swiatek tennis live streaming, preview and predictions – 17-year-old Swiatek could win her first WTA title in Lugano

Hannah Wilks in WTA Tour 13 Apr 2019
  • Polona Hercog faces 17-year-old Iga Swiatek in the final of the Samsung Open on Sunday
  • Hercog vs Swiatek is live from Lugano at 11.30am local/10.30am BST
Polona Hercog

Slovenian veteran Polona Hercog faces 17-year-old Polish sensation Iga Swiatek in the final of the Samsung Open in Lugano.

Will Polona Hercog end a seven-year title drought or can Iga Swiatek become the fourth player born in the 2000s to claim a WTA Tour title? They face off in the Samsung Open final in Lugano on Sunday.

The WTA Tour’s streak of different champions – every one of the 16 WTA Tour titles so far in 2019 has been won by a different player – will continue for at least one more week, as all the remaining players in Lugano and Bogota are looking for their first title of 2019 (if not the first title of their careers, as in the case of Swiatek in Lugano and Amanda Anisimova, Beatriz Haddad Maia and Astra Sharma in Bogota).

Polona Hercog
Hercog is a two-time WTA Tour champion, having won the title in Bastad in 2011 (d. Johanna Larsson) and 2012 (d. Mathilde Johansson). The Slovenian player was ranked as high as world no. 35 in 2011 after winning Bastad, finishing runner-up in Palermo and making the semifinals of Monterrey and Seoul, but she dropped outside the top 100 in 2013 thanks to missing almost all of the first five months of the season due to injury, and in 2014 she again missed a hefty chunk of the first half of the year due to a shoulder injury.

Hercog was close to breaking back into the top 50 in 2016, but missed everything from the US Open in August 2016 to the French Open in May 2017 and as a consequence her ranking dropped outside the top 200. She was back in the top 100 by January 2018 and made her first WTA Tour final since Bastad 2012 in Istanbul in April, finishing runner-up to Pauline Parmentier.

The Slovenian player lost her first three matches of 2019, but regrouped at ITF level when she made the semifinals of the Andrezieux Boutheon $60k and went on to get into the Doha, Dubai and Miami draws as a lucky loser, although it was only at the last-named that she was able to parlay that good fortune into a win to make the second round.

Hercog set the tone for a week of upsets by beating second seed Carla Suarez Navarro in three sets in the first round and ousted Sorana Cirstea in the second before beating Veronika Kudermetova in straight sets to make her first WTA Tour semifinal of the season. Up against France’s Fiona Ferro, Hercog was largely in control, taking a 5-2 lead and then, when that was erased by the Frenchwoman, breaking again to take the first set before breaking serve twice in the second. Hercog controlled the play well, using her backhand slice down the line and throwing in forehand drop shots to keep Ferro constantly off balance – it will be interesting to see who wins the battle of the drop shots in Sunday’s final, it being a tactic which Swiatek has also used to great effect.

‘I feel amazing and I'm really happy. The atmosphere is very relaxed, the crowd is great, and I'm enjoying it,’ Hercog said.

‘I've had a pretty good few days and I'm feeling good here.’

On the other side of the net, 17-year-old Iga Swiatek is looking to become the fourth player born in the 2000s to win a WTA Tour title, following in the footsteps of 2000-born Dayana Yastremska and Bianca Andreescu and 2001-born Olga Danilovic.

Iga Swiatek
Swiatek is already guaranteed to break into the top 100 for the first time on Monday, an incredible achievement for a player who, 12 months ago, was ranked well outside the top 600. The Polish teenager is still the reigning Wimbledon girls’ champion but has taken to the pro tour like a duck to water – and her rise hasn’t been underpinned by any favours, either; she’s never received a WTA Tour or even a ITF wildcard. 

Swiatek climbed from world no. 725 to world no. 298 over the course of a 37-6 2018 season and is 15-7 so far in 2019, having successfully qualified for the Australian Open and Budapest, although she fell in the attempt at Indian Wells and Miami. Into the main draw of Lugano by right of ranking, Swiatek dismissed a qualifier in the opening round before winning three-set matches over two seeds, Viktoria Kuzmova – the Pole’s first win over a top-50 opponent – and Vera Lapko to set up a semifinal clash with Kristyna Pliskova.

I’ll confess here to being completely mistaken about how this semifinal would play out. Pliskova played so well in a three-set victory over Svetlana Kuznetsova, I thought she would bring the same form against Swiatek. Instead, Pliskova served like she did in the first set against Kuznetsova and never found the level she produced in the second and third sets against the Russian, ending up with a first-serve percentage of 45% for the match and five double faults offset by just two aces. Swiatek, meanwhile, was brilliant, ending the match with 28 winners and 13 unforced errors (Pliskova was 10 and 20 respectively) and fighting off numerous break points in the second set with aplomb for a total trouncing of the Czech, 6-0, 6-1 in just 54 minutes.

Swiatek booked her place in a first WTA Tour final with a last forehand winner and flashed a double thumbs up at the camera. 

‘I feel great. I'm quite surprised that I'm in the final, because that was my first tournament that I played [directly] in main draw, but I'm really happy that I made it,’ Swiatek said.

‘I was believing in myself, and I hope tomorrow will be a great match also.’

This will be the first meeting between the two, and I’m starting to think that Swiatek is playing more than well enough to win the title in Lugano, which would be a tremendous milestone achievement for the young woman soon to become Poland’s no. 1. 

Hercog vs Swiatek Samsung Open tennis is live from Lugano on Sunday at 11.30am local/10.30am BST

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Hercog vs Swiatek tennis live streaming, preview and predictions – 17-year-old Swiatek could win her first WTA title in Lugano

Polona Hercog vs Iga Swiatek live streaming, preview and predictions for the WTA Lugano final on Sunday 14 April: After losing just one game in the semifinals, Wimbledon girls’ champion Swiatek sets sights on overcoming Slovenian veteran Hercog for maiden title

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