Anhelina Kalinina wins longest match of season to reach Rome semis

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

No. 30 seed Anhelina Kalinina of Ukraine outlasted No. 12 seed Beatriz Haddad Maia of Brazil 6-7 (2), 7-6 (6), 6-3 in the longest match of the WTA season on Tuesday to advance to the semifinals of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome.

The match had lasted three hours and 41 minutes when Kalinina won the point to clinch the final set.

“It feels great, but I can’t feel my body or my legs,” Kalinina said. “I think it was the longest match of my career. Thanks to my coach and thanks to my fitness coach because this win is not my win. My part is 50 percent and 50 percent is my fitness coach.”

Kalinina raced out to leads of 4-0 and 5-2 in the first set before Haddad Maia clawed all the way back to force a tiebreaker. Haddad Maia kept riding that momentum to win the first five points of the tiebreaker en route to a 7-2 win.

“I started really well and I think it was my weakness because I was a little bit relaxed,” Kalinina said. “Beatriz started to play really great, stepping in, playing really aggressive, but I was just waiting after 5-2.”

Kalinina fought back, trailing 5-4 in the second-set tiebreaker before winning four of the last five points. Haddad Maia took a 3-0 lead in the final set before running out of gas, as Kalinina took the final six games in a row.

The 26-year-old Ukrainian converted 8 of 15 break points.

Kalinina will play No. 11 seed Veronika Kudermetova of Russia in the semifinals. Kudermetova also needed three sets in the quarterfinals before defeating No. 22 seed Qinwen Zheng of China 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.

The other two matches of the day concluded the Round of 16.

Top seed Iga Swiatek of Poland breezed past No. 21 seed Donna Vekic of Croatia 6-3, 6-4 to set up a date with No. 7 seed Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan in the quarterfinals. Swiatek and Rybakina will face off for the third time this season; Rybakina, the 2022 Wimbledon champ, won the first two head-to-head meetings.

“I would say it’s kind of neutral,” Swiatek said of her mindset going into the rematch. “I just want to treat this match as any other one. Coming back to my previous matches against Elena, it doesn’t make sense. It was on hard court. I know how I felt. This time I don’t have any expectations. I’m just going to come out and play the best game possible.”

The two-time defending champion in Rome, Swiatek extended her winning streak in the tournament to 14 straight matches and 24 straight sets.

Paula Badosa of Spain rounded out the quarterfinal field by outlasting Karolina Muchova of the Czech Republic 6-4, 6-7 (4), 6-2 in three hours and four minutes. Next up, Badosa will face No. 20 seed Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia.

–Field Level Media

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