Swiatek shines in 51-minute French Open blitz as Gauff ends Andreeva run

Poland’s Iga Swiatek in action at the Roland-Garros Open tennis tournament at the Court Philippe-Chatrier in Paris. AFP

World number one and defending champion Iga Swiatek took just 51 minutes to reach the French Open fourth round on Saturday as Coco Gauff ended 16-year-old Mirra Andreeva’s memorable Paris debut.

Swiatek blitzed 80th-ranked Wang Xinyu of China 6-0, 6-0 on the back of 21 winners as the 22-year-old Pole took another step closer to becoming the first woman since Justine Henin in 2007 to win back-to-back titles at Roland Garros.

Of the six sets she has played so far, four have been to love. In all she has dropped just eight games through three rounds.

“It was a really solid performance from me. It’s not easy to stay disciplined and keep your focus,” said Swiatek, who also won the title in 2020.

Swiatek will face Ukraine’s Lesia Tsurenko, who breezed past 2019 US Open champion Bianca Andreescu for the loss of just two games, for a quarter-final berth.

Her path to the final was made easier earlier Saturday by the withdrawal of Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina, a possible last-four opponent, due to illness.

Rybakina had been due to face Sara Sorribes Tormo of Spain in the third round in the opening match on Court Philippe Chatrier but said she was suffering with a fever.

Rybakina withdraws

“I was not feeling good yesterday and the day before. I didn’t sleep last night,” said the 23-year-old Kazakh.

“I had fever and a headache and it’s difficult to breathe. I tried to play in the warm-up but I feel it’s the right decision to withdraw.”

Sorribes Tormo, ranked 132 in the world, will be playing in the second week of a Grand Slam for the first time.

She will face Beatriz Haddad Maia, the first Brazilian to make the last 16 in Paris since 1979, for a place in the last eight.

World number six Gauff, the runner-up to Swiatek last year, came back from a set down to defeat Andreeva 6-7 (5/7), 6-1, 6-1.

Andreeva, ranked a lowly 143, had come through qualifying and was the youngest player to make the third round since 2005.

“Mirra is super young and has a big future,” said Gauff.

Gauff said that despite her first set problems, she was confident she could pull through.

“I was a little undisciplined in the tiebreak but I knew what the game plan was so I just tried to execute that in the second and third sets.”

Gauff, 19, will face Anna Karolina Schmiedlova of Slovakia for a quarter-finals spot.

Andreeva was fortunate to avoid a default for petulantly hitting a ball into the Court Suzanne Lenglen crowd during the first set.

“Right after I thought that it was a really stupid move from me,” she admitted.

Casper Ruud, the runner-up to Rafael Nadal in 2022, dropped the first set before easing to a 4-6, 6-4, 6-1, 6-4 win against China’s Zhang Zhizhen.

The 26-year-old Zhang was bidding to become the first Chinese man since 1936 to reach the fourth round in Paris.

“It was very tough in the first set, he was hitting many winners and I couldn’t find a hole in his game,” said fourth-ranked Ruud.

South American push

Ruud will next face in-form Nicolas Jarry after the Chilean edged out Marcos Giron of the United States 6-2, 6-3, 6-7 (7/9), 6-3.

Jarry arrived in Paris having claimed the Geneva clay court title and will be making a maiden appearance in the last 16 of a major.

Also featuring in the second week for the first time will be 49th-ranked Tomas Martin Etcheverry of Argentina who stunned 15th seed Borna Coric 6-3, 7-6 (7/5), 6-2.

Etcheverry will next face Japanese 27th seed Yoshihito Nishioka who edged a dramatic five-set battle with qualifier Thiago Seyboth Wild to reach the fourth round for the first time.

Nishioka battled back to win 3-6, 7-6 (10/8), 2-6, 6-4, 6-0 against the Brazilian who had knocked out world number two Daniil Medvedev in the first round.

Francisco Cerundolo of Argentina joined the list of South American first-timers in the second week by seeing off US ninth seed Taylor Fritz 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, 7-5.

Cerundolo next meets Danish world number six and 2022 quarter-finalist Holger Rune who eased past 231st-ranked Argentinian qualifier Genaro Alberto Olivieri 6-4, 6-1, 6-3.

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