At Roland-Garros, Swiatek loses a set and extends his winning streak


PARIS (AP) – The loss of a set by a player does not normally make the headlines in a Grand Slam tournament. This was news to French Open on Mondaybecause the player was Iga Swiatek, No. 1 and it had been over a month since it had happened to him.

How it happened was also remarkable: she led the first set of her fourth-round match against Zheng Qinwen of China 3-0, then 5-2, and was one point away from claiming it at five. occasions, but could not seal the deal. Swiatek entered the day having won 20 sets in a row and 48 of her previous 49.

All that really mattered, in the end, was that the 2020 champ Swiatek didn’t drop another set on that cloudy evening, passing the hard-swinging Zheng 6-7(5), 6-0, 6-2 to return to the quarter-finals. at Roland Garros and took his winning streak to 32 consecutive matches.

“I’m pretty happy that I was able to come back after a pretty frustrating first set when I had the lead,” Swiatek said. “I’m pretty happy with myself that I’m still in the tournament.”

Swiatek regrouped by changing tactics – she accelerated her forehand instead of absorbing Zheng’s power – and in a less conventional way too, deciding to change her tone. No, really: she changed the song she was singing in her head during the game.

“It was Dua Lipa,” Swiatek said, “kind of a guilty pleasure.”

She has won her last five tournaments, undefeated since February for the longest such streak in the WTA since Serena Williams compiled a 34-match streak in 2013. With 23-time Grand Slam champion Williams absent from the tour for nearly a year, and Swiatek’s predecessor at the top of the rankings, two-time major winner Ash Barty, recently retired, there is no dominant figure in women’s tennis to mount a challenge.

Next in line to try to stop Swiatek will be 11th-seeded Jessica Pegula, who advanced to her third major quarter-final – and first in Paris – with a 4-6, 6-2, 6-3 victory over Romania’s Irina-Camelia Begu, who was fined $10,000 last week when she threw her racquet and bounced into the stands, brushing a child sitting in the front row.

Pegula, owner of a 2-3 record at Roland Garros before this year, saw two sides to face Swiatek, who beat her on hard court at the Miami Open in March.

“Sometimes you’re like, ‘Oh, I wish I hadn’t played her in the quarter-finals. I would have liked to play one of the other people and not meet her so soon,” Pegula said. “But at the same time, it’s a great chance to have a great victory and a great story.”

The other women’s quarter-final on Wednesday will be between two Russians: No. 20 Daria Kasatkina and No. 29 Veronika Kudermetova. They were teammates on the team that won the Billie Jean King Cup last year – Russia couldn’t try to defend that title due to the country’s invasion of Ukraine – and have known each other ever since. that they are children, competing as juniors a long time ago. like 2011.

Pegula, whose parents own the NFL’s Buffalo Bills and the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres, joins two other Americans in the quarterfinals.

18-year-old 18th seed Coco Gauff and 2017 US Open champion and 2018 French Open runner-up Sloane Stephens face off on Tuesday, when the women’s other match will be No. 17 Leylah Fernandez, a 19-year-old from Canada, against Italian Martina Trevisan, 54th in the standings.

The most anticipated men’s quarter-final will be the 59th career meeting between defending champion Novak Djokovic and 13-time champion Rafael Nadal Tuesday night. Earlier in the day, No. 3 Alexander Zverev takes on No. 6 Carlos Alcaraz, a 19-year-old Spaniard.

Wednesday’s men’s matches are No. 7 Andrey Rublev against 2021 US Open champion Daniil Medvedev or 2014 US Open champion Marin Cilic, and 19-year-old Dane Holger Rune against No. 8 Casper Ruud, a 23 yr- old from Norway. With Rune, who eliminated 2021 finalist Stefanos Tsitsipas 7-5, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4, and Alcaraz still on the pitch, it’s the first time in 28 years that two teenagers have qualified for the men’s quarter-finals at any time. Grand Slam tournament.

Zheng is 19 and Swiatek is only 20. Both are capable of playing like veterans.

Zheng, however, said she found it “difficult to show my level”, due to stomach cramps and a problem with her right leg, which was recorded by a trainer during a medical time-out. at 3-0 in the second set. This was during a period where Swiatek won eight straight games.

When it ended, Swiatek shouted “Come on!” and shook his right fist as he looked at the excited faces in his guest box.

“Of course these matches are emotional for everyone,” she said, “because they are tight and not easy.”

It hadn’t been the case for her for a while.

___

More from AP Tennis: https://apnews.com/hub/tennis and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports