Awesome Iga Swiatek into French Open Round 4, ill Elena Rybakina pulls out

ByRutvick Mehta, Mumbai
Jun 03, 2023 09:21 PM IST

Swiatek, chasing a third Roland Garros title, beat China's Wang Xinyu 6-0, 6-0; Wimbledon champion Rybakina pulled out of her third round match due to illness

On a day the biggest threat in her half of the draw pulled out, defending champion Iga Swiatek pulled together a show of intensity and statement of intent in a 6-0, 6-0 sweep of Wang Xinyu in the third round of the French Open.

Poland's Iga Swiatek reacts during her third round match of the French Open tennis tournament against China's Wang Xinyu(AP)
Poland's Iga Swiatek reacts during her third round match of the French Open tennis tournament against China's Wang Xinyu(AP)

The 51-minute demolition job on Saturday not only rocked the 21-year-old Chinese but also the day's schedule on Court Philippe-Chatrier. With action on the showpiece court already trimmed by fourth seed Elena Rybakina's withdrawal due to illness in the opening match, the organisers were forced to add a doubles game before the night session.

Rybakina, the in-form Rome champion who is unbeaten against the world No. 1 in their last three meetings, had loomed as a potential semi-final opponent for Swiatek; assuming both had got there, of course.

Going by what the Pole dished out on Saturday, it'd be brave to bet against that. The two-time winner in Paris was unrelenting against a player who'd never been in a Grand Slam third round before.

Swiatek broke Xinyu's serve to 15, 15 and from deuce in the first set, and to 15, love and 30 in the second. Swiatek was untouched on her serve. Let alone facing a break point, she was not even pushed to deuce until the 11th game, by when she was 6-0, 4-0 ahead.

Swiatek ended with a brilliant 86% points won on the first serve, 21 winners compared to a shell-shocked Wang's three, and half the number of unforced errors to the Chinese. Swiatek came into this French Open with some concerns over her fitness, but so far she has been on cruise mode. Remarkably, of the six sets she has played in her three matches so far, Swiatek has handed out four bagels (6-0) to her opponents.

Not nearly as straightforward was Coco Gauff's 6-7(5), 6-1, 6-1 victory over Mirra Andreeva in a third-round battle of teens. Last year's finalist Gauff, 19, was inconsistent in the first set before picking up her level in time to halt the 16-year-old Russian’s breakthrough tournament.

Also advancing to the fourth round were fourth seedsNorway's Casper Ruud, who staved off a fighting challenge from China's Zhizhen Zhang 4-6, 6-4, 6-1, 6-4, and sixth seed Holger Rune of Denmark, who beat Argentine qualifier Genaro Alberto Olivieri 6-4, 6-1, 6-3.

Rune's match on Philippe-Chatrier was advanced after Wimbledon champion Rybakina announced she was was ill and pulled out of her match against Sara Sorribes Tormo of Spain. "I was not feeling good yesterday and the day before. I didn't sleep last night," she said. "I had fever and a headache and it's difficult to breathe."

It was a big blow to the tournament and the world No. 4’s ambitions of going deep at Roland Garros on the back of a solid clay-court season.

Nadal has surgery, likely to be out for 5 months

Rafael Nadal rang in his 37th birthday on Saturday, after undergoing surgery on his troublesome left hip that kept him out of this year's French Open, on Friday night in Barcelona.

A spokesperson for Nadal said the procedure was "positive", though it is set to keep the 22-time Grand Slam champion out for five months. It means Nadal is likely to miss the rest of the season, including the Davis Cup Finals in November.

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