Roland Garros: Can Anyone Stop Swiatek?

Iga Swiatek (photo: Roland Garros video)

PARIS/WASHINGTON, May 28, 2022 (by Michael Dickens)

About the only thing that No. 1 seed Iga Swiatek struggled with during her third-round match at the French Open happened after she had secured a 6-3, 7-5 win over No. 95 Danka Kovinic of Montenegro in an hour and 30 minutes on Court Philippe-Chatrier Saturday afternoon.

During her on-court interview, Eurosport’s Mats Wilander asked the World No. 1 how she planned to spend her day off Sunday in Paris. At first, Swiatek wasn’t sure how to articulate her answer. Being a bit nervous, her perfectionist personality didn’t want to offend any French fans by giving the wrong pronunciation. So, Swiatek stepped away from the microphone to consult with Wilander, then asked the crowd for some help. It turned out she wants to go to Bois de Boulogne, a recreational park that was once a forest and a royal hunting preserve west of Paris. One thing’s certain, Swiatek has earned the day off.

The 2020 French Open champion Swiatek has now advanced to the second week in all four of her Paris appearances and she’s won 17 of 19 matches on the Roland-Garros red dirt. In this year’s Paris fortnight, she’s yet to drop a set in the first three rounds.

By extending her winning streak to 31, which began in February at Doha, where she won the first of five consecutive Tour titles, Swiatek has amassed the fourth-longest winning streak in WTA Tour history. Now, she’s one win away from tying Justine Henin’s total of 32, set in 2007-08.

After dropping three games in the opening set – one more than Swiatek did in the previous round – the Polish star won the last eight points to take the set. Then, ahead 4-1 in the second, she was forced to rally after being broken twice. However, Swiatek got both breaks back and pulled away to the victory by winning the final three games of the match.

Swiatek hit 13 winners to 23 unforced errors, converted five of 10 break points and outpointed Kovinic 68-52.

Asked by Wilander to describe how she felt on court, Swiatek said: “I went to play aggressively and, sometimes, I feel like I was putting too much power [into my strokes]. Her balls were also powerful and, sometimes, you know, it was difficult to control when I was playing full speed. I needed to be play with less pace and be more consistent during the rallies. I feel I did a good job of defending.”

Swiatek said it was really important to get off to good starts in her matches because she could “play more fearlessly.”

Swiatek’s next opponent will be 19-year-old Zheng Qinwen of China, who advanced against Alizé Cornet of France by retirement, ahead 6-0, 3-0, after 44 minutes. Zheng has played fearlessly herself in putting together three straight wins in the first week, including a second-round victory over 2018 French Open champion Simona Halep.

The No. 74 Zheng broke Cornet twice to take an early 3-0 lead with a combination of baseline power combined with the element of surprise that came from effectively using drop shots. Cornet won just six more points over the next six games before retiring due to a left thigh injury.

Sinner through to second week for third straight year

World No. 12 Jannik Sinner of Italy overcame an ailing leg and a difficult opponent, 60th-ranked American Mackenzie McDonald, to reach the fourth round of the French Open for the third straight year.

The 20-year-old Sinner, who defeated McDonald to win the ATP 500 Citi Open title last August, beat the former NCAA champion, 6-3, 7-6 (6), 6-3, in two hours and 50 minutes on Court Simonne-Matthieu for his 11th win on clay and 27th overall this season.While he didn’t look to be at full strength, Sinner played excellent tennis from the baseline to get past a tough opponent.

After receiving treatment on his left leg and trailing 2-5 in the second set, Sinner fought back to win the third-round match in straight sets in back of 40 winners.

“I think both of us were not feeling well on the court, but I am very happy to be through – to have won today – and that I found a solution,” said the five-time ATP Tour champion Sinner said during his on-court interview. “I am not feeling 100 percent, that is for sure. But I have seen a solution. I served very well today, especially in the important moments, and I am very happy I broke him immediately at the start of the third set. Under three hours, I’m happy. So, let’s see the next match how it goes. Obviously, it’s going to be tough.”

As McDonald served for the second set at 5-4, attempting to level and prolong the match, he saw 10 set points erased by Sinner. The young Italian broke on his seventh opportunity to even the set at 5-all. The 10th game lasted nearly 15 minutes. Later, Sinner saved an 11th set point from McDonald to force a second-set tie-break, which he won 8-6. The second set alone lasted 89 minutes.

“I always feel well here in Paris,” Sinner said. “It is very special for me to play here and I hope [the fans] come out in the next round because I think I need the support.”

Sinner’s victory moved him into the round of 16 against No. 7 seed Andrey Rublev of Russia, who beat No. 37 Cristian Garin of Chile, 6-4, 3-6, 6-2, 7-6 (11), in three hours and nine minutes on Court 14. Rublev, came from a double break down in the fourth set and saved five set points during the fourth-set tie-break. He won on his fifth match-point opportunity and improved to 10-3 on clay this season and 28-7 overall.

Around Roland-Garros


• World No. 2 Daniel Medvedev wowed the crowd with his flawless and fluent French during his post-match on-court interview. Just before, he wowed his opponent, Serbia’s Miomir Kecmanovic, with near flawless tennis, too. The No. 2 seed from Russia won 6-2, 6-4, 6-2 in an hour and 48 minutes to move into the fourth round. He struck 42 winners to 24 for Kecmanovic and broke his opponent five times and saved both break points he faced. Now, Medvedev is a win away from returning to the French Open quarterfinals for the second straight year.

In press, Medvedev called his victory “a great match against a tough opponent.”

“To be honest, before the match, I would never have thought I could make this score happen on clay courts,” he said.

“Everything I wanted to do today worked. I was serving great. I feel like I was almost putting all the returns in and I made his life tough. Maybe he didn’t play his best level, [but] I managed from my side to make his life as tough as possible, and it was enough to win today.”

Next, Medvedev will face No. 20 seed Marin Cilic of Croatia, who ended the sentimental run of 158th-ranked Frenchman Gilles Simon, 6-0, 6-3, 6-2, on Court Philippe-Chatrier. It was the final Roland Garros appearance for the 37-year-old Simon, who will retire at the end of the current season.

• No. 4 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece made quick work of Sweden’s Mikael Ymer, winning 6-2, 6-2, 6-1, in an hour and 32 minutes on Court Suzanne-Lenglen. The World No. 4 won 83 percent (34 of 41) of his first-serve points, hit 24 winners and converted seven of 12 break points. He outpointed the 95th-ranked Ymer 86-40. It was the fourth career victory for the Greek star over the top-ranked Swedish player.

“[There were] a lot of good rallies from side,” Tsitsipas said during an on-court interview. “I have a long history with Mikael, playing in juniors, and we’ve played each other a lot. I would like to congratulate him on his great effort. He had a good run to the third round once more. It was a good game from my side. I played really well and topped if off with some really good, patient tennis.”

Next, Tsitsipas will face No. 40 Holger Rune of Denmark. The 19-year-old Danish teen defeated No. 74 Hugo Gaston of France, 6-3, 6-3, 6-3, in the featured night session match on Court Philippe-Chatrier. In the one-hour and 55-minute contest, Rune hit 38 winners and broke Gaston’s serve seven times in 11 tries. He outpointed the 21-year-old Frenchman, who was the last French player remaining in either the men’s and women’s singles draws.

• No. 12 seed Hubert Hurkacz is through to the fourth round – the first Polish male since Wojtek Fibak in 1982 – after defeating David Goffin of Belgium, 7-5, 6-2, 6-1, in one hour and 49 minutes on Court Simonne-Mathieu.

The World No. 13 Hurkacz improved to 23-9 this year and 9-3 on clay. Next, he will face  No. 8 seed Casper Ruud of Norway, who needed nearly three-and-a-half hours to beat No. 32 seed Lorenzo Sonego of Italy, 6-2, 6-7 (3), 1-6, 6-5, 6-3. Ruud is the first Norwegian to reach the French Open fourth round.


• The fairytale run of France’s Léolia Jeanjean ended with a third-round loss to Irina-Camelia Begu of Romania, 6-1, 6-4, in just under 90 minutes on Court Suzanne-Lenglen. The 227th-ranked French wild card, a former junior standout who starred collegiately in the United States, had strung together back-to-back upsets of Top 50 opponents – including her second-round win over World No. 8 Karolina Pliskova on Thursday. However, the more experienced Begu, ranked 63rd, hit 26 winners and saved 10 of 11 break-point chances to win.

Next, Begu will face No. 11 seed Jessica Pegula of the United States, who eliminated 2021 French Open semifinalist Tamara Zidansek of Slovenia, 6-1, 7-6 (2), in an hour and 27 minutes in back of 25 winners. Zidansek was the last of the 2022 women’s semifinalists left in the draw.

• No. 29 seed Veronica Kudermetova of Russia reached the fourth round of a major for the first time after World No. 4 and third seed Paula Badodsa retired due to a right calf injury. Kudermetova was ahead in the third-round match 6-3, 2-1 after 68 minutes on Court Suzanne-Lenglen. It was the third time the two competitors had met this season. Badosa had won the first two, at Indian Wells and more recently at Madrid, losing only eight games combined.

Next, Kudermetova will oppose No. 22 seed Madison Keys of the United States, who outlasted No. 16 seed Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan, 3-6, 6-1, 7-6 (3), in two hours and nine minutes. Keys was two points from losing, serving in the 12th game of the decider. The American won 12 of the last 15 points, including eight straight.

• No. 28 seed Camila Giorgi of Italy earned her first trip to the fourth round at Roland Garros after upsetting No. 7 seed Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus, 4-6, 6-1, 6-0, in one hour and 42 minutes. The 30-year-old Italian won 12 of the final 13 games of the third-round match on Court Simonne-Mathieu. Giorgi has won five of her last seven against Top 10 players after dropping 12 straight. It was her 14th career Top 10 victory.

Next, Giorgi will play No. 20 seed Daria Kasatkina of Russia, who advanced with a 6-3, 6-2 win over American Shelby Rogers, in an hour and 19 minutes. The 50th-ranked Rogers racked up 51 unforced errors to just seven for Kasatkina.


• Men’s No. 1 doubles seeds Rajeev Ram of the United States and Joe Salisbury of Great Britain are through to the quarterfinal round after defeating Feliciano Lopez of Spain and Maxime Cressy of the United States, 7-5, 6-4.

Meanwhile, No. 2 seeds Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic, both of Croatia, were upset by No. 16 seeds Rohan Bopanna of India and Matwe Middelkoop of the Netherlands, 6-7 (5), 7-6 (3), 7-6 (10).


The French Open boys’ and girls’ singles draw were revealed Saturday. Headlining the boys’ field is American Bruno Kuzuhara, while Petra Marcinko of Croatia is the top seed in the girls’ draw. Kuzuhara begins against qualifier Tongan Tokac of Turkey and Marcinko’s first-round match is against Kayla Cross of Canada. Play begins Sunday.

Saturday’s French Open results

Sunday’s French Open order of play

Passing shots

The end of a French generation as Gilles Simon plays his final Roland Garros match. He finished 23-17 lifetime in the French Open.

At the end of her third-round match, Iga Swiatek signed the camera lens “Real Madrid or Liverpool???” Whose side is Swiatek on? “It’s a hard one. I’m not a like a huge fan. For sure I’m going to be cheering for a lot of goals.”

By the numbers

With her 31st victory achieved Saturday afternoon, Iga Swiatek owns the longest current WTA winning streak. It is the fourth longest on the WTA Tour since 2000. The longest winning streak belongs to Venus Williams, who won 35 straight in 2000, followed by Serena Williams with 34 in 2013 and Justine Henin with 32 in 2007-08.

“Quotable …”

“Of course, I am still young, but I learned from the Slams what I played already. Hopefully, there are many more to come, but I think I have a little bit of experience, for sure – maybe, not so much than the most of the players, but I have. So, let’s see how far I can go.”

Jannik Sinner of Italy, speaking on his experience gained from playing in Grand Slam events.