regular-article-logo Sunday, 24 September 2023

French Open: Ruthless Iga Swiatek dishes out tennis masterclass to double bagel helpless Wang Xinyu

Last year’s finalist Casper Ruud rallied to beat Zhang Zhizhen ending a strong run by the Chinese player

Reuters Paris Published 04.06.23, 07:16 AM
Casper Ruud celebrates after defeating China’s Zhang Zhizhen on Saturday.

Casper Ruud celebrates after defeating China’s Zhang Zhizhen on Saturday. AP/PTI

Top seed Iga Swiatek of Poland pulverised Wang Xinyu of China 6-0, 6-0 on Saturday with a flawless display to stay firmly on course to successfully defend her French Open title and fire a warning to her rivals.

Swiatek, aiming to win her third trophy in Paris in five years, showed no weaknesses as she regained her rhythm to cruise into the fourth round.


In the earlier rounds here, Swiatek did manage straight-set victories, but did not really sail in the first sets (6-4), against much lower-ranked opponents. In the Italian Open ahead of the grand slam, she had to give a walkover to Elena Rybakina in the quarter finals.

She wasted little time to show who was in charge on Saturday, breaking the Chinese world No. 80 three times to seal the first set in 28 minutes. Wang’s strong forehand was supposed to be a major weapon but instead it let her down, with the Chinese piling up a dozen unforced errors en route to the first of two bagels.

Swiatek, who had also managed the double bagel feat in Rome last month, refused to be drawn into Wang’s power rallies and instead made her opponent run.

Last year’s runner-up Coco Gauff overcame a shaky start to end fellow teenager Mirra Andreeva’s run with a 6-7 (5-7), 6-1, 6-1 victory.

On a sunny afternoon, Gauff struggled to handle Russian Andreeva’s firepower before finding her stride.

The 16-year-old Andreeva, who burst onto the scene with two victories over top-20 players at the Madrid Open, forced Gauff onto theback foot with her explosive power from the baseline only to allow the American to claw her way back.

Ruud rallies

Last year’s finalist Casper Ruud rallied to beat Zhang Zhizhen ending a strong run by the Chinese player.

The fourth-seeded Ruud, who lost to Rafael Nadal in last year’s final, won 4-6, 6-4, 6-1, 6-4.

Zhang was the first Chinese man to reach the third round at Roland Garros since Kho Sin-Khie in 1937.

Zhang broke Ruud in the opening game and went on to take the set as the Norwegian player grew more and more frustrated. Matters grew worse for Ruud as he found himself 0-40 down on his serve early in the second set but he collected his emotions and — after a topsy-turvy set — went on to level the match at his first opportunity. Ruud then improved in the last two sets and sealed the match.

Dane Holger Rune took a step close to becoming his country’s first male grand slam singles champion when he powered past Argentine qualifier Genaro Alberto Olivieri 6-4, 6-1, 6-3.

The gap in quality between sixth seed Rune and his opponent, ranked 231st in the world, was quickly evident with the Argentine completely overwhelmed by the Dane’s aggressive game at the start.

Olivieri’s weak second serves, which regularly dipped below 150 kmh, made him even more vulnerable to Rune’s attacks in windy conditions on Philippe Chatrier court.

The 20-year-old is bidding to join former world No.1 Caroline Wozniacki as Denmark’s singles grand slam winners.

‘Complete player’

Spanish world No.1 Carlos Alcaraz delivered a confident self-assessment in his first Grand Slam as the top seed after booking his fourth-round spot on Friday, saying he was the complete article.

Alcaraz stormed past Canada’s Denis Shapovalov with a 6-1, 6-4, 6-2 demolition to set up a fourth-round match against Italy’s Lorenzo Musetti.

“I am a complete player,” Alcaraz said when asked about his strongest point. “I would say the stronger thing that I have on court is push to the limit. I push the opponent to the limit every time.”

Alcaraz is the youngest top seed in Paris since Bjorn Borg back in 1976.

Stefanos Tsitsipas said he is getting back to his best by easing the burden on his shoulders and playing without any expectations as he cruised into the fourth round with a 6-2, 6-2, 6-3 victory over Diego Schwartzman.

Indians lose

Yuki Bhambri and Saketh Myneni lost their men’s doubles second-round match against Santiago Gonzálezand Édouard Roger-Vasselin 4-6, 5-7.

Rybakina blow

Paris: Fourth seed Elena Rybakina pulled out of the French Open ahead of her third-round match Sara Sorribes Tormo on Saturday due to a viral illness as the Roland Garros tournament lost one of its main contenders for the women’s title.

The Wimbledon champion said she had been unwell for the last two days. I was not feeling good... so I didn’t sleep two nights and had some fever,” Rybakina told a news conference.

“Today I really tried during the warm-up but I feel that the right decision is to withdraw because it’s really tough to play in this condition. I saw the doctor, and they said that actually it’s all a virus here in Paris. I guess with my allergy, my immune system just went down and I picked up something.”

Kazakhstan’s Rybakina was among the title favourites alongside holder Iga Swiatek and Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka after winning the Rome title.

“I’m really upset not be able to play, but I guess that’s life,” Rybakina added.


Nadal out for five months

Paris: Rafael Nadal’s season is all but over after he underwent surgery on a hip muscle which will keep him out of action for an estimated five months, his representative said on Saturday.

The 14-time French Open champion, who has won a men’s joint-record 22 majors, has been out of action since January after hurting his hip flexor in his second-round match at the Australian Open.

“Rafa will begin his progressive functional rehabilitation in a few hours and the normal recovery process is estimated at five months, always taking into account respecting the biological times of said structure,” Benito Perez-Barbadillo said.

The 37-year-old Spaniard has said 2024 is likely to be his last year as a professional player.

He was initially set to miss up to eight weeks.

In March, Nadal fell out of the top 10 in the world rankings for the first time since 2005 and is now 15th.


Follow us on: