Ruud, Swiatek gain momentum at French Open

June 2, 2023 12:35 pm

[Source: Reuters]

Fourth seed Casper Ruud and holder Iga Swiatek stayed on course to reach consecutive finals at the French Open.

While a couple of unheralded names in the women’s draw continued to show their immense potential on a sunny Thursday at Roland Garros.

Elena Rybakina also booked a third round spot with a 6-3 6-3 victory over rising Czech teenager Linda Noskova with the fourth seed and Wimbledon champion dazzling again on Parisian clay as one of the top contenders for the Grand Slam title.

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Ruud, who lost to Rafa Nadal in last year’s final, is aiming to capitalise on the 14-time champion’s absence through injury this year and looked rock solid for much of his 6-3 6-2 4-6 7-5 victory over Italian qualifier Giulio Zeppieri.

“It was a tough match,” Ruud said. “I started well, got a break early and served well myself.

That’s the beauty of best-of-five sets. In a normal match I would have won 6-3 6-2, but here you have the chance to fight like he did.

“He played much better in the third set and the fourth set, and it became very tough.”

Ruud will next play Chinese trailblazer Zhang Zhizhen who beat Argentine qualifier Thiago Agustin Tirante 7-6(3) 6-3 6-4 to become the first man from his country since 1937 to reach round three.

Swiatek, who is looking to lift the Suzanne Lenglen Cup for the third time in four years, briefly struggled against American Claire Liu but returned to her rampant best with another bagel in her 6-4 6-0 victory.

Russian qualifier Mirra Andreeva continued to enjoy a dream Grand Slam debut as the 16-year-old stormed into the third round with a 6-1 6-2 win over Frenchwoman Diane Parry, though she admitted to having butterflies in her stomach.

“I’m happy that you don’t see that I’m nervous,” said the world number 143, who became the youngest player to reach the third round in Paris since a 15-year-old Sesil Karatantcheva stormed into the last eight in 2005.

“I hide it pretty well.”

Up next for Andreeva is 19-year-old Coco Gauff – a player who knows all about negotiating instant stardom, with last year’s runner-up having subdued Julia Grabher 6-2 6-3 to set up the third-round showdown.

American Kayla Day made no secret of her success after a stunning 6-2 4-6 6-4 win over compatriot Madison Keys, thanking her Czech roots for enhancing her tennis skills.

“My mum, she was born and raised in Prague, and I speak fluent Czech.

That’s the only reason why I’m good at tennis, because I’m half Czech.”

Jannik Sinner later squandered two match points in his 6-7(0) 7-6(7) 1-6 7-6(4) 7-5 loss to German Daniel Altmaier in an epic battle lasting more than five hours.

“Playing every point you can with the best effort, that’s what keeps you in reality,” Altmaier said about his escapes on match point.

“I was just thinking that and the competition says it all.

We’ve had historic matches with so many match points … I don’t know if you can call this a ‘historical’ match, but I think it was one to remember.”

Croatian Borna Coric was made to work hard by Pedro Cachin before the 15th seed prevailed 6-3 4-6 4-6 6-3 6-4 but it was a day to forget for Australian 18th seed Alex de Minaur who fell to a 6-3 7-6(2) 6-3 defeat by Tomas Martin Etcheverry.

American 12th seed Frances Tiafoe beat Russian qualifier Aslan Karatsev 3-6 6-3 7-5 6-2.

Tunisian world number seven Ons Jabeur came through a tricky test against risk-taking Oceane Dodin with a 6-2 6-3 victory to ensure that no French player will make the third round of the women’s competition for the third time in five years.

Alexander Zverev will be in action in the night session against Alex Molcan following a scheduling tweak on Wednesday after experienced Frenchman Gael Monfils pulled out of his match versus Holger Rune.