Teen sensation


PARIS, October 4

Polish teenager Iga Swiatek dumped top seed Simona Halep out of the French Open today with a crushing 6-1 6-2 victory to make her maiden Grand Slam quarterfinal.

Halep came into the fourth-round clash on a 17-match unbeaten streak having defeated the 19-year-old Swiatek, ranked 54th in the world, 6-1 6-0 in 45 minutes at the same stage last year in the claycourt Grand Slam at Roland Garros. “I wasn’t experienced at all then. That was my first match in a big stadium,” Swiatek said in her on-court interview, after wiping away tears. “I was pretty stressed. Since then I have made huge progress and I have played a few big matches … it helped me a lot. And right now I think I can handle the pressure.”

Jannik Sinner celebrates after defeating Alexander Zverev. REUTERS

Swiatek later told reporters: “I did everything that my coach told me about tactics. So it was kind of like a perfect match for me.”

Swiatek avenged that morale-sapping defeat and her victory under the closed roof of Court Philippe Chatrier in 68 minutes was no less impressive against the 2018 French Open champion, ranked number two in the world. “I mean it wasn’t like I was scared because of that, because I lost in 45 minutes last year. It was kind of like motivating for me just to play better,” she said.

Halep arrived in Paris having won claycourt tournaments in Prague and Rome and with the Australian world No. 1, Ash Barty, deciding against defending her French Open title, the 29-year-old was the overwhelming favourite to add a third Grand Slam trophy to her cabinet. But Swiatek started with aggression and painted the red clay with winners, often leaving Halep rooted to the spot. Swiatek hit 30 winners to Halep’s 12, while the Polish player did not face a single breakpoint on her service games.

The former Wimbledon junior champion will next meet Italian qualifier Martina Trevisan, who also scripted an upset by defeating fifth-seeded Dutch Kiki Bertens 6-4 6-4.

Ice-cool Sinner

Italian teenager Jannik Sinner never lost his cool as he became the first debutant to reach the French Open quarterfinals since Rafael Nadal in 2005 with a 6-3 6-3 4-6 6-3 victory against a feverish Alexander Zverev.

The 19-year-old, who will also be the youngest male player since Novak Djokovic in 2006 to feature in the last-eight at Roland Garros, will face 12-time champion Nadal for a place in the semifinals.

The South Tyrolian, winner of last year’s NextGen ATP Finals, dropped a set for the first time in the tournament but he continued to take the ball very early, making his 23-year-old opponent look old at times. Sinner wrapped up victory on a windswept Court Suzanne Lenglen with a booming forehand that Zverev could only return into the net.

Zverev said he had been ill since his third-round win against Italian Marco Cecchinato on Friday. “I am completely sick after the match with Cecchinato in the night. Yeah, what can I say? I’m completely sick,” he said. “I can’t really breathe, as you can hear by my voice. I had fever, you know, as well.

Players are regularly tested for Covid-19 but Zverev declined to answer a question about the date of his last test.

A coughing Zverev had the doctor and the trainer on court, showing them his throat and sending them away. At the following change of sides, the German again had them at his side and took a pill, being told by the doctor to take another one half-an-hour later. — Reuters

Qualifier history

Trevisan’s career is taking off in spectacular fashion, with the Italian becoming the first of two qualifiers in eight years to reach the quarterfinals of the French Open. She was then joined in the last-eight by Argentine Nadia Podoroska, who beat Czech Barbora Krejcikova 2-6 6-2 6-3, making it only the second time since tennis turned professional in 1968 that two qualifiers have progressed to that stage of the competition.

World No. 159 Trevisan, who did not play tennis between 2009 and 2014 because of an eating disorder, played aggressively throughout. “I came here two weeks ago to play the qualifiers and today I’m here in the quarterfinals. I can’t believe it,” said Trevisan, who will break into the top-100 of the WTA rankings tomorrow.

She is the first qualifier to reach the last-eight at Roland Garros since Yaroslava Shvedova in 2012 and the 10th overall in the women’s draw in the Open era. Before Trevisan and Podoroska progressed, the only time two qualifiers featured in the quarterfinals at Roland Garros was in 1978 with German Helga Masthoff and Czech Miroslava Bendlova. Only Belgian Filip Dewulf, in the men’s tournament, managed to go one step further, in 1997.

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