Iga Swiatek said she was proud of how she battled from a set down to make her maiden Australian Open semi-final Wednesday, with a Grand Slam comeback "a new thing for me".
Just 20, the consistent Polish seventh seed proved too resilient for gutsy veteran Kaia Kanepi, ending the unseeded Estonian's surprise Melbourne Park run 4-6, 7-6 (7/2), 6-3 in a exhausting 3hr 1min.
It set up a clash with American Danielle Collins for a place in the final.
Swiatek is in the second week for a sixth consecutive Grand Slam since her 2020 French Open triumph, but it the first time she has made the last four away from the Paris clay.
During her run to the Roland Garros title, she didn't drop a set. But the Pole has had to fight through two consecutive three setters in Melbourne, coming from a set down each time.
"I'm pretty proud of myself, especially after matches like that, because coming back from losing first set it's a new thing for me," she said.
"Right now I have more belief when I don't start the match well.
"Basically I'm proud of myself that I can, I'm still able to, find solutions and actually think more on court on what to change, because before it wasn't that clear for me.
"So I feel like it's part of the work that we have been doing to control my emotions and just maybe actually focus on finding solutions."
Ranked nine, Swiatek is now projected to move to fourth in the world and could go as high as three if she wins the title.
Remarkably, 115th-ranked Kanepi turned professional in 1999, two years before her opponent was born.
- 'I had my chances' -
But despite the 16-year age gap the Estonian showed plenty of fight as she looked to make a first Grand Slam semi-final since playing her first in 2006.
They both held serve to 2-2 in the opening set but Swiatek was the more dangerous, creating three break points without converting any.
With Swiatek winning more than 80 percent of her first service points, Kanepi needed to capitalise on the second serve.
The Estonian bided her time and pounced in game seven, slamming a forehand return to go 4-3 ahead.
Swiatek saved four set points in a huge ninth game and incredibly another four as Kanepi served for the set before she finally got over the line after 64 minutes.
The Polish star's day worsened when she was broken first up in the second set, but she wasn't ready to give in.
She broke straight back and with Kanepi seemingly wilting, struck again to take a 3-1 lead.
But a ninth Swiatek double fault helped Kanepi break back and the set went to a tiebreaker, where the Pole regrouped to dominate.
They exchanged early breaks in the deciding set before Swiatek broke again for 3-2 and after a late wobble emerged victorious.
"I felt like I had my chances in first set, and I didn't use them. The first chance that she had actually to break me, she used it," she said.
"That was my main regret, but at the end you have to forget about that and just focus on what's in front of you."