Swiatek shines in French Open blitz


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 opening match on Court Philippe Chatrier but said she was suffering with a fever.

"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," said the 23-year-old Kazakh.

Sorribes Tormo, ranked 132 in the world, 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 19-year-old Gauff who 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.

Seventh-ranked Ons Jabeur made sure five of the top seeds reached the last 16 by defeating Serbian qualifier Olga Danilovic 4-6, 6-4, 6-2.

World number four 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.

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.

Daniel Altmaier, who won the fifth longest match in French Open history in the last round, succumbed in straight sets to Grigor Dimitrov.

The Bulgarian will next face Alexander Zverev who edged out Frances Tiafoe of the United States 3-6, 7-6 (7/3), 6-1, 7-6 (7/5).

Zverev suffered ankle ligament damage in a semi-final loss to Nadal in 2022 which ended his season.

"It's been the hardest year of my life," said German 22nd seed Zverev. "I'm so happy to be back."


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