Swiatek into French Open last 16 after stiff test

Iga Swiatek drops serve three times en route to a 6-3, 7-5 win over Montenegro’s Danka Kovinic.

Swiatek plays a stroke during her third-round match on Saturday.   -  REUTERS

Top ranked Iga Swiatek ran into a spot of bother as she beat Danka Kovinic of Montenegro 6-3, 7-5 to reach the fourth round of the French Open and extend her winning streak to 31 matches on Saturday.

The Polish player, who is unbeaten since last February, has also won 46 of her last 47 sets after claiming titles on claycourt in Stuttgart and Rome.

The 2020 champion is bidding to become the fourth player since 2000 to lift the Suzanne Lenglen Cup multiple times after Justine Henin, Serena Williams, and Maria Sharapova.

The 20-year-old is on the longest unbeaten run in the women's tour since Serena Williams bagged 34 victories in succession in 2013.

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"I wanted to play aggressively but maybe putting too much power and her balls were so powerful so it was tough to handle at full speed. I had to take fewer risks but she did a great job defending," said Swiatek, who will next face Chinese Zheng Qinwen.

"She was serving with precision so it was tricky to see where she was going to serve but I have played heavy hitters before, although it was a bit hard to adjust at the beginning."

 

Swiatek broke for 2-0 on her sixth opportunity but appeared to be struggling to handle her opponent's heavy forehand.

Kovinic, the World No. 95, even managed to break back in the seventh game but immediately dropped serve again with four unforced errors in a row. Swiatek followed up on serve to bag the opening set.

Kovinic's efforts took their toll as she had less stamina and she made more and more unforced errors, losing four consecutive games to allow the world number one to move 4-1 up. But she found some unsuspected resources to break back twice and even go 5-4 up after winning 11 points in a row.

Facing the prospect of dropping her first set in the tournament, Swiatek found better angles to level for 5-5 and break decisively when Kovinic completely misfired a forehand.

Whipping the ball with poise, Swiatek wrapped it up on her second match point with an unreturnable serve.

Injured Badosa retires, Giorgi packs off Sabalenka

Third seed Paula Badosa was forced to retire with a right calf injury from her third round match against Veronika Kudermetova while the Spaniard was trailing 6-3 2-1.

The 24-year-old Badosa, who made the quarter-finals at Roland Garros last year, was considered one of those in the women's draw who could challenge world number one Swiatek.

Playing on Court Suzanne Lenglen, Badosa required medical attention for a right leg problem during the match and then decided early in the second set that she could no longer continue.

 

The 29th-seeded Kudermetova will face either American Madison Keys or Kazakh Elena Rybakina for a place in the quarter-finals.

The women's draw was further hampered by the exit of seventh seed Aryna Sabalenka, who went down to big-hitting Italian Camila Giorgi 4-6, 6-1, 6-0 on Court Simonne Mathieu.

Sabalenka, a former world number two, won the hard-fought opening set but then was reduced to a mere spectator as Giorgi scorched the court with winners.

The Belarusian managed to win only one more game as Giorgi completed a remarkable comeback win in an hour and 42 minutes to make the fourth round for the first time at Roland Garros.

For a place in the quarter-finals, the 30-year-old Giorgi, ranked 30th, will next meet 20th seed Daria Kasatkina. 

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