Iga Swiatek showed why she is the favourite to defend her French Open title with an impressive win over Anett Kontaveit in the third round.
The Pole had not dropped a set in her last nine matches at Roland Garros, but was handed her stiffest test yet after Kontaveit forced her to a tiebreak in the opener.
But Swiatek stayed tough to seize the first set before her opponent unravelled in the second, coming through 7-6(4) 6-0 to book a clash with Ukrainian star Marta Kostyuk in the last 16.
Swiatek is one of only three top 10 players left in the women’s draw along with fourth seed Sofia Kenin – who she could meet in the quarter-finals – and seventh seed Serena Williams.
She took a while to find her rhythm on Court Philippe-Chatrier as Kontaveit came out firing and broke the 20-year-old in the opening game of the match.
But Swiatek slowly warmed to her task, breaking back in the eighth game of the set as she began to match Kontaveit’s aggressive hitting from the baseline.
After sneaking the tiebreak – albeit only after forgetting the service pattern when trying to take the first two serves – she raised her game to another level, making just one unforced error in the second set as Kontaveit’s own count quickly racked up.
The 82-minute match may not have been Swiatek’s finest display at Roland Garros, but it was arguably one of the most important – proving that she can quell an inspired opponent and manage the big points.
“She was playing really fast, from the beginning she was dominating,” Swiatek said on court afterwards.
“I kind have had a late start today. But I’m really happy as I was losing our head-to-head 0-2 and I broke that.
“I’m really happy that I’m playing consistently and I’m just trying to approach every game in the same way as I did last year.
“Many players struggle after coming back after winning a Grand Slam, so I’m really happy that I’m able to handle it.”
Since winning the title at Roland Garros last year, Swiatek has established herself in the top 10 and won tournaments in Adelaide (hard court) and Rome (clay).