No. 1 Swiatek finds focus at French Open amid 31-match run | Sports activities

PARIS — It’s been so lengthy since No. 1-ranked Iga Swiatek misplaced — 31 matches in a row — and even since she ceded a lot as a set — that final occurred greater than a month in the past — that she may very well be forgiven if she could not recall how one can react when in hassle on a tennis courtroom.

Which is why it was value watching because the 2020 French Open champion navigated a few difficult spots within the third spherical at Roland Garros on Saturday.

Turns out Swiatek did not panic and did not enable ideas about this dominant run coming to an finish distract her in what would grow to be a 6-3, 7-5 victory towards hard-hitting Danka Kovinic of Montenegro.

“Thinking about all these stats, it’s not really helpful. So basically I try to be really strict in terms of my thoughts and try to really focus on … finding solutions,” mentioned Swiatek, a 20-year-old from Poland whose final title is pronounced shvee-ON’-tek. “The thoughts are there, but I’m accepting that.”

Kovinic also got a too-close-for-comfort look at Swiatek’s predecessor atop the WTA rankings, the since-retired Ash Barty, during a 6-0, 6-0 loss at the Australian Open in January.

After Saturday’s setback, Kovinic said she was dealing with a nerve issue in her right shoulder and felt tingling in that arm and two of her fingers. She also said she made sure to deliver a message to Swiatek when they shook hands at the net.

“I told her, ‘Keep going.’ It’s really great for tennis, for our sport, what she’s doing. Obviously, she has something extra that the rest of us don’t have,” the 95th-ranked Kovinic said. “She has something special. What it is, I don’t know.”

Well, let’s attempt to reply. Swiatek’s serve, for instance, is stable however not es pecially speedy; her quickest Saturday was 108 mph, 7 mph slower than Kovinic produced. Swiatek’s groundstrokes are clean, positive, however as with anybody’s are liable to waver; her forehand was significantly problematic on a windy afternoon with the temperature within the low 60s Fahrenheit, accounting for 17 of her 23 unforced errors.

Speed weapons and statistics, although, cannot account for 2 traits that stand out: a capability to stay within the second and willingness to suppose her method out of a nook.

Early on, when a 3-0 lead shrank to 4-3, Swiatek grabbed eight consecutive factors to personal that set. In the second, she dropped 4 straight video games to path 5-4. Might have been time to suppose, “Uh, oh.” Instead, Swiatek adjusted to Kovinic’s fashion by utilizing guile as a substitute of trying to match energy with energy, and he or she reeled off the final three video games to complete the job.

“For sure,” Swiatek said, “played a little bit more smart.”

Her subsequent opponent is Zheng Qinwen, a 19-year-old from China who’s ranked 74th and in her second Grand Slam event.

“I really want to play against her,” mentioned Zheng, who was forward 6-0, 3-0 when Alize Cornet stopped taking part in due to an injured left leg.

Other ladies’s fourth-rounders are Jessica Pegula vs. Irina-Camelia Begu, who was fined $10,000 after she threw her racket and it bounced into the stands and brushed a baby within the stands earlier within the week; Daria Kasatkina vs. Camila Giorgi; Veronika Kudermetova vs. Elena Rybakina or Madison Keys.

The comparatively surprise-free males’s outcomes continued to pour in, with No. 2 Daniil Medvedev, No. 4 Stefanos Tsitsipas, No. 7 Andrey Rublev, No. 11 Jannik Sinner, No. 12 Hubert Hurkacz and No. 20 Marin Cilic advancing. All gained in straight units, aside from Rublev, who required 4.

The prime seven males’s seeds are into the fourth spherical; No. 8 Casper Ruud performed later Saturday.

No. 11 Pegula, whose mother and father personal the NFL’s Buffalo Bills and NHL’s Buffalo Sabres, and Swiatek are the one two of the highest 15 seeds remaining within the ladies’s bracket.

“She’s kind of hit another level than all of us right now. Yeah, it’s a little scary,” mentioned Pegula, who wanted 10 match factors to shut out her first-round victory, then eight extra in her subsequent match, however sealed Saturday’s 6-1, 7-6 (2) win over 2021 semifinalist Tamara Zidansek on her preliminary probability.

One extra victory apiece, and Swiatek turns into Pegula’s downside within the quarterfinals.

“Her athleticism and defensive skills are really, really good,” Pegula said. “And then, I think, she’s gotten much more offensive this year. Been more aggressive when she’s needed to be.”

Swiatek has gained her previous 4 tournaments and 48 of her previous 49 units; the exception got here towards Liudmila Samsonova within the semifinals at Stuttgart on April 23. The final match Swiatek misplaced was towards 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko again on Feb. 16 within the spherical of 16 at Dubai.

She’s gained a complete of 15 units by a 6-0 rating this season, however Swiatek confirmed Saturday she will be able to deal with it when issues get tight.

“It wasn’t surprising, it wasn’t weird,” Swiatek mentioned. “It’s not that I forgot how one can play these sorts of units.”

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