Iga Świątek defeats Danka Kovinic 6-3, 7-5 to reach French Open fourth round and keep his 31-game winning streak alive

It’s been so long since number one-ranked Iga Świątek lost – 31 tennis matches now – and even since she lost as much as a set, which last happened more than a year ago. a month she could be forgiven if she couldn’t remember how to react when something went wrong on the tennis court.

Which is why it was worth watching as the 2020 French Open champion navigated a few tough spots in the third round at Roland Garros on Saturday.

Świątek didn’t panic or let thoughts of the end of that dominant run distract her in what would become a 6-3, 7-5 victory over the hard-hitting Danka Kovinic of Montenegro.

“The thoughts are there, but I accept it.”

Kovinic had a look too close for comfort to Świątek’s predecessor at the top of the WTA rankings, Ash Barty, since retirement, in their 6-0, 6-0 loss at the Australian Open in January.

After Saturday’s setback, Kovinic said she suffered from a nerve problem 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 Świątek when they shook hands at the net.

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“She has something special. What is it, I don’t know.”

Two traits stood out in Świątek’s victory over Kovinic: an ability to stay in the moment and a willingness to think to get out of a corner.

Early on, when a 3-0 lead dwindled to 4-3, Świątek grabbed eight straight points to own that set.

In the second, she lost four straight games to trail 5-4.

Świątek then adapted to Kovinic’s style of using trickery instead of trying to match power with power, and she reeled off the final three games to finish the job.

“Of course,” Świątek said, “[I] played a little smarter.”

Her next opponent is Zheng Qinwen, a 19-year-old Chinese who is ranked 74th and competing in her second Grand Slam tournament.

“I really want to play against her,” said Zheng, who was leading 6-0, 3-0 when Alize Cornet stopped playing with a left leg injury.

The other fourth-round women are:

  • Jessica Pegula vs. Irina-Camelia Begu, who was fined $10,000 after she threw her racquet and it bounced in the stands and brushed a child in the stands earlier in the week
  • Daria Kasatkina Camille Giorgi
  • Madison Keys versus Veronika Kudermetova.

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Pegula (11th) — whose parents own the NFL’s Buffalo Bills and the NHL’s Buffalo Sabers — and Świątek are the only two of the top 15 seeds remaining in the women’s draw.

“She’s kind of reached a different level than all of us right now. Yeah, that’s kind of scary,” said Pegula, who needed 10 match points to close out her first-round victory and then eight. others in her next match, but sealed a 6-1, 7-6 (7/2) win over 2021 semi-finalist Tamara Zidansek on her first chance on Saturday.

One more win each and Świątek becomes Pegula’s problem in the quarter-finals.

“His athletic and defensive skills are really, really good,” Pegula said. “And then I think she’s become a lot more attacking this year. She’s been more aggressive when needed.”

Świątek has won her last four tournaments and 48 of her last 49 sets, except for Liudmila Samsonova in the semi-finals in Stuttgart on April 23.

Świątek’s last match loss was against 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko on February 16 in the Round of 16 in Dubai.

She has won a total of 15 sets 6-0 this season, but Świątek showed on Saturday that she can handle when the going gets tough.

PA

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