PARIS, May 29 — World number one Iga Swiatek was the only top 10 seed left standing at the French Open on Saturday after racking up her 31st straight win as third seed Paula Badosa and seventh-ranked Aryna Sabalenka crashed out.
Swiatek, the 2020 champion, dropped serve three times against 95th-ranked Danka Kovinic of Montenegro before sealing a 6-3, 7-5 third round victory.
“I wanted to play really aggressively but sometimes I felt I was hitting with too much power and it was hard to control,” said the 20-year-old Pole.
Swiatek’s winning streak is the best since Serena Williams’s 34 successive victories in 2013.
She next faces Chinese teenager Zheng Qinwen who made the last 16 on her debut when French veteran Alize Cornet, playing in her 61st consecutive Grand Slam, retired with a leg injury, trailing 6-0, 3-0 after just 44 minutes.
Having stunned 2018 champion Simona Halep in the second round, Zheng becomes only the fourth Chinese woman to make the fourth round in Paris where compatriot Li Na won her landmark Slam title in 2011.
“I always knew I had the level to do well, now I just want to keep going,” said the 19-year-old Zheng, ranked at 74.
Cornet, the last Frenchwoman in the draw, was booed by a section of the Court Philippe Chatrier Court.
“It hurt more than my injury,” she said.
Spain’s Badosa, who made the quarter-finals in 2021, retired from her last 32 match due to a calf injury when she was trailing Russia’s Veronika Kudermetova 6-3, 2-1.
Sabalenka, the seventh seed, slipped to a 4-6, 6-1, 6-0 defeat against Italy’s Camila Giorgi who is into the fourth round for the first time.
The exits of Badosa and Sabalenka mean that for the first time in the Open era only one top 10 seed has survived to the fourth round.
In stark contrast, nine of the top 10 men are still in contention.
World number two Daniil Medvedev eased through by defeating Serbian 28th seed Miomir Kecmanovic 6-2, 6-4, 6-2.
Medvedev has not dropped a set in three rounds and will next play former US Open champion Marin Cilic who ended 37-year-old Gilles Simon’s 17-year-old Roland Garros career with a 6-0, 6-3, 6-2 win.
Cilic, who made back-to-back quarter-finals in 2017 and 2018, hit 42 winners.
Medvedev fell in the opening round on his first four trips to Paris before reaching the quarter-finals a year ago.
“It was really hard, everyone was asking how I could be number two in the world without getting past the first round,” said the US Open champion who has yet to win a clay title.
Fourth seed and 2021 runner-up Stefanos Tsitsipas needed just 92 minutes to clinch a 6-2, 6-2, 6-1 win over 95th-ranked Mikael Ymer.
Greek star Tsitsipas had to come back from two sets down to beat Lorenzo Musetti and then needed four hours and four sets to see off 134th-ranked qualifier Zdenek Kolar in his first two outings.
11 set points
However, the 23-year-old was never troubled on Saturday, breaking his Swedish opponent six times on his way to a fourth round clash against Danish teenager Holger Rune or Hugo Gaston, the last French player in the tournament.
“It was different from my first two matches. The conditions were warmer and drier, which suited me better,” said Tsitsipas after a season-leading 34th win in 2022.
Eighth-seeded Casper Ruud became the first Norwegian man to reach the last 16 with a 6-2, 6-7 (3/7), 1-6, 6-4, 6-3 win over Italy’s Lorenzo Sonego.
Ruud hit 39 winners and goes on to face Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz, a Wimbledon semi-finalist last year who is also in the last 16 in Paris for the first time.
Mackenzie McDonald, the 60th-ranked American, slipped to defeat against Italian 11th seed Jannik Sinner after managing to squander 11 set points in the second set.
Sinner, a quarter-finalist in 2020, triumphed 6-3, 7-6 (8/6), 6-3 and will face seventh-seeded Andrey Rublev for a last-eight spot.
Rublev, also a quarter-finalist two years ago, defeated Chile’s Cristian Garin 6-4, 3-6, 6-2, 7-6 (13/11). — AFP