World number one Iga Swiatek of Poland reaches the Indian Wells semi-finals with a 6-2, 6-3 victory over Romanian Soran Cirstea

Indian Wells (United States) (AFP) - World number one and defending champion Iga Swiatek powered past Sorana Cirstea 6-2, 6-3 on Thursday to reach the semi-finals of the Indian Wells combined WTA and ATP Masters 1000 hard court tennis tournament.

Swiatek, winner of the French and Australian Opens last year, lined up a final-four clash with Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina – the woman who sent Swiatek spinning out of the Australian Open round of 16 in January.

Rybakina, one of only three women to beat Swiatek this season, beat Czech Karolina Muchova 7-6 (74), 2-6, 6-4.

Swiatek is vying to become just the second woman, after Martina Navratilova in 1990 and ‘91, to win back-to-back titles in the California desert.

Cirstea, ranked 83rd in the world and coming off an impressive fourth-round win over fifth-ranked Caroline Garcia, did everything she could to stick with Swiatek early, recovering an early break and then fending off a break point as she held to level the opening set 2-2.

But Swiatek, adjusting to the warm daytime conditions after two straight night matches on Stadium Court, won the next eight games to take a stranglehold on the contest.

It proved just a blip when Cirstea saved a first set point with an ace, giving herself a game point with a superb spinning drop shot before finally succumbing to Swiatek’s pressure with a forehand into the net.

Swiatek was up two breaks in a flash in the second set. Cirstea clawed one back then held for 4-2, continuing to try every shot she could summon to find a way back in.

The Romanian held at love in the eighth game to force Swiatek to serve it out – which she did after one hour and 22 minutes.