Swiatek outlasts Kovinic at Roland Garros for 31st straight win; to face Zheng Qinwen in the last 16


Iga Swiatek extended his winning streak to 31 with a 6-3, 7-5 defeat of Danka Kovinic in the third round of Roland Garros, although the No. 1 seed had to fend for a tough opponent in 1 hours and 30 minutes.

Swiatek, the champion here in 2020, has now reached the second week of her four Roland Garros appearances, and she has won 17 of her 19 matches at the tournament.

Roland-Garros: Results | Order of play | To draw

His active winning streak, which dates back to February and includes titles in Doha, Indian Wells, Miami, Stuttgart and Rome, is the fourth longest of the 21st century. The 20-year-old Pole is one win away from matching Justine Henin’s 32 in 2007-08; a final would match Serena Williams’ 34 in 2013; and a title would put her level with Venus Williams’ 35 in 2000.

Kovinic, ranked No. 95, the first Montenegrin to reach the third round at Roland Garros, delivered a valiant performance that prevented Swiatek from repeating the success of her first two rounds. Having never passed the second round of a major in 17 main draws before this year, Kovinic has now made the third round of both Grand Slams this year.

Match management: On the first substitution, it was Swiatek who led 3-0 – but Kovinic signaled her determination to stay with the world No.1, who needed six break points and 13 minutes to capture the first break.

Losing that game didn’t deter the 27-year-old either. Swiatek squandered a 4-2, 40-0 lead amid a sudden flurry of loose forehands that saw Kovinic return to serve. But after achieving that goal, Kovinic immediately gave up his momentum with four cheap unforced errors to give Swiatek the break.

Swiatek enjoyed his less awkward stretch of play as he built a 4-1 double-break lead in the second set, only to have his forehand give up on him again. A cascade of errors from this wing again opened the door for Kovinic, who seized the opportunity with flying colors. The former world No. 46 has played four consecutive games, conjuring up several great drop shots along the way.

As in the opener, the closing stages of the set saw Swiatek stabilize while Kovinic fell back into error. Down 5-4, Swiatek delivered two solid service games around a timely break from Kovinic’s serve to advance into the fourth round. In total, she had committed 23 unforced errors to just 13 winners – but managed to summon her best tennis when needed.

In the words of Swiatek: “Of course, I felt like she was using my power at times, so I had to adapt a bit more to what she was playing, and of course I played a bit smarter.

“I changed the tactics in the second set a bit to play less risky, but then I made a few mistakes. I lost my breaks. I’m not perfectly happy with that, but overall I’m satisfied with the performance, and that I came back in the second set.”

Swiatek’s reading of Roland Garros: ” I finished a few days ago 21 lessons for the 21st century [by Yuval Noah Harari]. And then I read [Agatha Christie’s] Murder on the Orient Express in like two days. And now [Alexandre Dumas’] The three Musketeers.

“[21 Lessons…] was difficult to digest because it is essentially the purpose of life. I took a lot to broaden my horizons, because the author is quite thoughtful about some things, and he provokes ideas that I hadn’t even thought of. But also a bit typical of what science fiction movies show us.

“It was kind of nice to educate me a bit more. But on the other hand, it was a bit about the future, so you never know what’s going to happen, and those were his ideas. so I don’t really know how to trust but I’m also going to read other books by him, so I’m going to see what I take away from those too.

Zheng Qinwen advances on Cornet via retirement, Begu stops Jeanjean

Swiatek will next face Zheng Qinwen, a 19-year-old Roland Garros debutant, who reached the fourth round of a major tournament for the first time after Alizé Cornet dropped out, trailing 6-0, 3-0 due to from a left thigh injury.

Zheng, ranked No. 74, beat Cornet twice from the game point to take a 3-0 lead, dominating the game with both her raw power from the baseline and a deft touch on the amortized. The Frenchwoman, who wore heavy strapping on both thighs, was increasingly embarrassed as the match progressed. Cornet won just six more points over the next six games before being forced to retire.

Romania’s Irina-Camelia Begu returned to the fourth round of Roland Garros for the first time since 2016, beating French wildcard Leolia Jeanjean 6-1, 6-4. Ranked No. 63, Begu held off a push from Jeanjean in the second set to close out the victory after 1 hour and 25 minutes. Despite generating more break point chances, 11 in total, the 26-year-old Frenchwoman only managed to break Begu once in the match. Begu finished the game with twice as many winners as Jeanjean, while keeping a cleaner sheet, hitting 21 unforced errors to 27.

Begu, who had already reached the fourth round of the 2015 Australian Open and 2016 French Open, will next face No. 11 seed Jessica Pegula or 2021 semi-finalist Tamara Zidansek for a spot in her first major quarter-final.

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