French Open winner Iga Swiatek rallied from a set and a break down in brutal heat to overpower Estonian Kaia Kanepi 4-6 7-6(2) 6-3 on Wednesday and reach her first Australian Open semi-final.
Kanepi, 36, appeared set to progress beyond the last eight at a Grand Slam for the first time when she won the opening set and broke early in the second, with a frustrated Swiatek slapping herself and slamming her racquet on court.
But the Pole, who committed 12 double faults in the match, regained her composure and raised her level in a second set tiebreaker to level the contest at 1-1.
Swiatek suffered two more breaks in the decider but managed to break 115th-ranked Kanepi four times, sealing the three-hour contest on her second match point when the Estonian sent a backhand wide for her 62nd unforced error.
Swiatek will meet 27th-seeded American Danielle Collins, who defeated Frenchwoman Alize Cornet 7-5 6-1 earlier on Wednesday, for a place in the final.
Danielle Collins was in a world of pain a year ago but the American is now hopeful her best tennis lies ahead of her as she bids to break new ground at the Australian Open.
Collins ended Alize Cornet’s dream run on Wednesday with a 7-5 6-1 win, reaching her second semi-final at Melbourne Park on Wednesday, three years after her first.
The 28-year-old will meet seventh seed Iga Swiatek, the 2020 French Open champion, for a place in her first Grand Slam final. She is the second American into the last four, with Madison Keys to play top seed Ash Barty on Thursday.
Former University of Virginia player Collins was in a dark place last year while suffering severe abdominal and back pain during her periods that impacted her ability to train and play.
It led to a diagnosis of endometriosis, which occurs when tissue similar to the womb lining grows in other places, usually within the pelvic cavity.
Collins had surgery last April and it has been a long road back to her first Grand Slam semi-final since 2019 in Melbourne.
“When you’re dealing with that type of physical pain multiple weeks out of the month, you’re not putting yourself in a position to be able to perform consistently and to be at your best whether as an athlete or a person,” she told reporters.
“I think I certainly feel a lot freer just not having to deal with the symptoms that I used to deal with, that not being a continuous issue that I’m dealing with on a daily basis.”
Collins’ fitness was on full display during a sweltering morning match at Rod Laver Arena, the 27th seed ramping up the aggression to blow Cornet off the court in the second set.
She showed no nerves as she hammered a forehand down the line to earn two match points, then sealed it when Cornet thudded a forehand into the net.
“It feels incredible,” said Collins.
“Especially after some of the health challenges I’ve had.
“To be able to compete with these women, it’s such an honour.”
Collins said that more open discussions could help women players cope with periods better and manage performance.
“I think anytime you’re dealing with injuries, I think there’s certainly a science behind looking at your menstrual cycles,” she said.
“I think it’s an important discussion that medical teams can have with athletes.”