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French Open PIX: Swiatek, Nadal in quarters; Djokovic survives

Last updated on: June 08, 2021 10:00 IST
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Images from Day 9 of the 2021 French Open at Roland Garros in Paris on Monday.

Swiatek holds off Kostyuk to reach last eight

Iga Swiatek

IMAGE: Iga Swiatek celebrates winning the fourth round match against Marta Kostyuk of Ukraine during day nine of the 2021 French Open at Roland Garros on Monday. Photograph: Julian Finney/Getty Images

Defending champion Iga Swiatek held off a fierce challenge from Ukraine's Marta Kostyuk to reach the French Open quarter-finals with a 6-3 6-4 victory on Monday.

 

The eighth-seeded Pole has now won 22 consecutive sets at Roland Garros going into her clash with Greek 17th seed Maria Sakkari as she bids to become the first woman to retain the Roland Garros title since Justine Henin in 2007.

Against an 18-year-old opponent who threw everything at her, Swiatek kept her composure on an empty court Philippe Chatrier, with fans not allowed to attend due to Paris's 9pm COVID-19 curfew.

"There were so many differences (from a day match)," said Swiatek.

"It was hard for me to adapt. The light are really bright and I had to adjust, sometimes I was facing the lights when I had to smash, it was hard."

Kostyuk, who had not dropped a set in powering through the first three rounds, piled on the pressure early on to put Swiatek on the back foot and earn a break for 2-1.

Iga Swiatek

IMAGE: Iga Swiatek is bidding to become the first woman to retain the Roland Garros title since Justine Henin in 2007. Photograph: Julian Finney/Getty Images

An unfazed Swiatek, however, broke straight back before gaining the upper hand in the eighth game when Kostyuk's attempted backhand down the line went wide.

The Pole served out to take the lead after a hugely competitive set in which she faced five break points.

Swiatek capitalised on her opponent's errors to break for a 2-1 lead in the second, only for Kostyuk to level at 2-2.

The decisive break for Swiatek came in the seventh game when Kostyuk netted a sliced forehand while attempting to retrieve a lob.

Kostyuk bounced her racket in frustration after Swiatek earned a match point at 5-3, but the Pole squandered that chance.

Kostyuk went 30-0 up in the 10th game but Swiatek won four points in a row, wrapping it up with a superb lob at the end of a quick exchange at the net.

"Her defence was crazy, it was hard for me to finish the points a few times," said Swiatek. "She was getting everywhere, so big bravo to her, she has a bright future ahead of her."

Merciless Nadal marches into quarter-finals

Rafael Nadal plays a backhand return against Jannik Sinner

IMAGE: Rafael Nadal plays a backhand return against Jannik Sinner. Photograph: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Claycourt king Rafael Nadal overcame a wobbly start to subdue Italian teenager Jannik Sinner 7-5, 6-3, 6-0 on Monday and book a place in the French Open quarter-finals.

The Spanish defending champion, looking to claim a record-extending 14th Roland Garros singles title and become the only man to win 21 Grand Slam singles crowns, has won 35 consecutive sets in Paris.

World number 19 Sinner, who at 19 years old has been labelled as the next big thing in tennis, hit a brick wall on court Philippe Chatrier after leading 5-3 in the opening set.

Third seed Nadal will face Diego Schwartzman for a place in the semi-finals after beating the Argentine in the last four in the previous edition of the tournament.

"I played against a very good player who has a great future and I'm very happy with the win," Nadal said.

"I started playing well the first couple of games and then I played too defensive for a few games and gave him the chance to step into the court and play his shots. After that the match changed a lot."

Facing the ultimate challenge on clay, Sinner struggled to get into the groove before cancelling out an early break as Nadal experienced problems with his first serve.

Sinner, who lost to the claycourt master in the quarter-finals here last year, found himself up a break after two Nadal double faults and a few uncharacteristic errors.

Serving for the set, however, Sinner lost the game to love and Nadal levelled at 5-5 on his opponent's 25th unforced error before breaking to love again to seal the opening set.

After losing eight games in a row, Sinner stopped the rot with a break, clinching it after rushing to the net to retrieve a drop shot and delivering a stunning crosscourt passing shot.

Nadal quickly recovered to break again, however, and he served out to take a two-set lead before securing his 104th match win at Roland Garros.

The Spaniard has not lost at the Paris Grand Slam tournament since 2015 when he was knocked out in the last eight by Novak Djokovic, his potential semi-final opponent.

Djokovic through after huge scare as Musetti retires

Lorenzo Musetti embraces Novak Djokovic after he retires through injury

IMAGE: Lorenzo Musetti embraces Novak Djokovic after he retires through injury. Photograph: Adam Pretty/Getty Images

World number one Novak Djokovic survived a massive scare before fighting back from two sets down against teenager Lorenzo Musetti to reach the French Open quarter-finals on Monday after the Italian retired in the fifth set.

Musetti, appearing in his first Grand Slam main draw, was inspired as he took the opening two sets on tiebreaks but crumbled and appeared to run out of energy as he managed one game thereafter before retiring at 4-0 down in the fifth set.

Novak Djokovic dives as he plays a return 

IMAGE: Novak Djokovic dives as he plays a return. Photograph: Adam Pretty/Getty Images

Djokovic was being outplayed and was facing his earliest Roland Garros exit since 2009, but the match swung his way in rapid fashion as he won the third set 6-1 in 24 minutes.

The Serb won the fourth set 6-0 and was then cruising through the decider before Musetti decided he could not play on.

Gauff youngest woman to reach quarters

Coco Gauff

IMAGE: Coco Gauff celebrates a point during the fourth round match against Ons Jabeur of Tunisia during day nine of the 2021 French Open at Roland Garros on Monday. Photograph: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

American teenager Coco Gauff reached her first Grand Slam quarter-final with a crushing 6-3, 6-1 defeat of Tunisia's Ons Jabeur in the fourth round of the French Open on Monday.

The 17-year-old capitalised on a nervous start by Jabeur and never let her opponent off the hook in a clinical display.

Jabeur, like Gauff a former junior French Open champion, tried to mix things up with her trademark drop shots but nothing could disrupt Gauff's flow.

Coco Gauff

IMAGE: Coco Gauff is yet to drop a set in the tournament. Photograph: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Gauff wrapped up the win in less than an hour on her fourth match point and is yet to drop a set in the tournament.

She will face Czech Barbora Krejcikova, who beat Sloane Stephens, for a place in the semis.

"Very happy to reach my first quarter-final, I played really well today," 24th seed Gauff said on court.

Sakkari knocks out Kenin to reach maiden major quarter-final

An ecstatic Maria Sakkari celebrates on winning match point against American Sofia Kenin

IMAGE: An ecstatic Maria Sakkari celebrates on winning match point against American Sofia Kenin. Photograph: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Greek Maria Sakkari bundled American fourth seed Sofia Kenin out of the French Open on Monday with a 6-1, 6-3 thrashing to reach her maiden Grand Slam quarter-final.

Sakkari, 25, had lost her two previous fourth-round appearances in Grand Slams and came into Monday's clash having lost twice in majors to 2020 Australian Open winner Kenin.

But the Greek, who won their last meeting in Abu Dhabi this year, raced into a 4-0 lead in the opening set as Kenin, the highest women's seed left in the tournament, served two double faults in each of her two service games.

"I was stuck in the third round a lot of times, and that was an obstacle that I wanted to just kind of like break that curse and make it to the fourth round," Sakkari told reporters.

"Now I'm excited to be in the quarter-finals for the first time. I knew it was going to come. I didn't know when. But I think that I've been playing very good tennis, especially this year."

A wasteful Kenin, last year's finalist at Roland Garros, managed to hold just two service games and cut a frustrated figure on Suzanne Lenglen court, constantly muttering to herself but failing to solve her problems.

She was the highest-seeded player surviving in the women's draw after injured world number one Ash Barty's retirement, second seed Naomi Osaka's withdrawal due to mental health issues and third seed Aryna Sabalenka's defeat.

But Kenin, who played with taping on her left thigh, failed to turn up, serving nine double faults and making 32 unforced errors - the last when she sent a shot long on the second match point.

"I'm obviously disappointed today. It's definitely not the match that I wanted to play. I feel like nerves got the better of me," Kenin told reporters.

Sakkari's progress to the quarter-finals along with Stefanos Tsitsipas made it the first time a Greek woman and a Greek man have made the last eight at the same major.

The 17th seed will meet either Polish defending champion Iga Swiatek or unseeded world No. 81 Marta Kostyuk of Ukraine for a place in the semis.

Schwartzman recovers from slow start to reach quarters

Argentina's Diego Schwartzman recovered from a slow start to down Germany's Jan-Lennard Struff to enter the quarter-finals.

IMAGE: Argentina's Diego Schwartzman recovered from a slow start to down Germany's Jan-Lennard Struff to enter the quarter-finals. Photograph: Sarah Meyssonnier/Reuters

Argentine counter-puncher Diego Schwartzman overcame a sluggish start to book his place in the French Open quarter-finals with a 7-6 (9), 6-4, 7-5 victory over Germany's Jan-Lennard Struff on Monday.

Having reached the fourth round without dropping a set, Schwartzman was uncharacteristically sloppy in the opening exchanges and littered the court with unforced errors, allowing Struff to break twice and take a 5-1 lead in the opening set.

But the world number 10 soon found his rhythm thanks to some crafty shot placement and superb defence as he fended off seven set points before taking the first set himself.

Big-serving Struff never quite recovered from that setback and was pushed around the court by a string of pinpoint groundstrokes from Schwartzman, who claimed a crucial break in the 10th game before taking the second set.

After a double exchange of breaks, Schwartzman then took control with a third break in the final set to secure victory in just over three hours on Court Suzanne Lenglen.

 

Krejcikova swats aside Stephens

IMAGE: Barbora Krejcikova has been unbeaten since a maiden title-winning run in Strasbourg ahead of the French Open. Photograph: Julian Finney/Getty Images

Big-hitting Czech Barbora Krejcikova powered past former finalist Sloane Stephens of the United States 6-2, 6-0 in their matchup of unseeded players to reach the quarter-finals of the French Open on Monday.

The 33rd-ranked Krejcikova, who won the 2018 doubles title at Roland Garros with Katerina Siniakov, has been unbeaten since a maiden title-winning run in Strasbourg ahead of the French Open and dominated the 2017 U.S. Open winner from the start on a sun-bathed Suzanne Lenglen court.

IMAGE: Barbora Krejcikova serves during her fourth round match against Sloane Stephens on Monday. Photograph: Adam Pretty/Getty Images

Former world number three Stephens, who reached the final in Paris in 2018, did not have any answer to Krejcikova's powerful but effortless play in their first meeting and did not help her cause by committing 26 unforced errors.

The 25-year-old Krejcikova broke the American's serve twice in the opening set and then wiped her out in the second.

The Czech converted her second matchpoint with a forehand winner, her 10th of the match, and will meet the winner of the contest between Tunisia's Ons Jabeur and American Coco Gauff for a place in the semi-finals.

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