Iga Swiatek made a winning start to her 2024 clay-court season at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix, defeating Elise Mertens, 6-3, 6-4 to reach the quarterfinals in her title defense.

"I played many tough matches here, so it doesn't really matter what happened in the past," Swiatek said on the court. "I just wanted to play with as much intensity as I can and get used to the court since this is the first match since last year. I'm happy I played in a solid way and found a way to win in two sets."

The world No. 1, who has won the title in Stuttgart the last two seasons, made an impeccable turnaround from playing on hard courts for Billie Jean King Cup to slide through an at-times tense encounter to knock out her unseeded opposition and remain undefeated in Stuttgart.

Indeed, Swiatek has been the most consistent player on tour in 2024; despite an early exit at the Australian Open, the 22-year-old has made up for that disappointment with aplomb, picking up WTA 1000 titles at the Qatar TotalEnergies Open and the BNP Paribas Open before leading Poland to a 4-0 BJK Cup victory over Switzerland.


Making the transition onto her beloved clay courts proved straightforward from the onset against Mertens, a former world No. 12 who has tended to play her best tennis on faster surfaces.

Swiatek surged to a 5-1 lead to kick off her first meeting with the Belgian, and withstood a mid-set hiccup to dig out of a 0-30 deficit and serve out the set on her second opportunity.

The second set saw a similar momentum shift when Swiatek shook off losing an early break to reclaim the initiative at three games apiece. Mertens kept pressing, but Swiatek was undeterred, consolidating the break with some strong serving to put herself a game from the last eight.

Though Mertens saved three match points with a mix of defense and deep hitting, Swiatek cracked a powerful backhand to engineer a fourth and clinched the victory with a final forehand winner.

Awaiting her there is guaranteed to be an intriguing opponent, as 2021 US Open champion Emma Raducanu will aim to back up her big win over former world No. 1 Angelique Kerber against Linda Noskova, who defeated Swiatek in Australia but has lost her last two meetings with the Pole in Indian Wells and Miami.