French Open 2023: Swiatek earns double bagel at Roland Garros, Coco beats Mirra

PARIS (BBC): Top seed Iga Swiatek says she does “not want to get lazy” after thrashing China’s Wang Xinyu 6-0 6-0 to reach the French Open fourth round. Poland’s Swiatek, going for a third Roland Garros title, has won four of her six sets without dropping a game. Coco Gauff used her greater experience to fight back from a set down against 16-year-old Russian Mirra Andreeva.

American sixth seed Gauff, who is still only 19, remained calm and turned the match around to win 6-7 (5-7) 6-1 6-1.

Swiatek, who beat Gauff in last year’s final on the Paris clay, needed just 51 minutes to record her first ‘double bagel’ at a Grand Slam. “I always try to kind of be careful, because you don’t want to get lazy after winning these matches,” Swiatek told a news conference. “It’s never easy to win these matches. But on the other hand, sometimes all your head can remember is the score, and I always want to kind of be ready for every situation.”

Swiatek, 21, has become known for the ruthless nature of her victories and winning a lot of sets by a 6-0 or 6-1 scoreline – known as ‘bagels’ and ‘breadsticks’ – led to the creation of a Twitter account called Iga’s Bakery. Asked about it following her win against Wang, she said: “I don’t want to talk about the bakery. “Twitter can talk about it but I’m just going to be focused on tennis. With respect to my opponents, I really don’t want to get into that.

“I really get why people do that, because it’s fun and tennis is entertainment. But from players’ point of view, I want to be respectful to my opponents and you don’t see the stuff that is behind the scenes.

“Sometimes it’s not easy to play such matches and sometimes it’s not easy also for the opponents.” The world number one will face Lesia Tsurenko in the last 16 after the Ukrainian beat 2019 US Open winner Bianca Andreescu 6-1 6-1.

Despite suffering a thigh injury in Rome before Roland Garros, Swiatek has quelled any fears about her fitness with dominant performances in the opening three rounds.

Alongside Belarusian second seed Aryna Sabalenka, Swiatek is widely considered a favourite to win the clay-court Grand Slam and the pair’s chances were also strengthened when Kazakh fourth seed Elena Rybakina – part of the emerging ‘big three’ on the WTA Tour – withdrew. Wimbledon champion Rybakina, who won the Rome title last month, pulled out shortly before her third-round match on Saturday after struggling with a virus.

With Gauff bursting on to the scene as a 15-year-old at Wimbledon in 2019 still feeling fresh in the memory, it felt odd seeing her in the rare position of playing a younger opponent. Andreeva was still only 15 when she started her stunning run to the Madrid Open quarter-finals in April, turning 16 during the tournament and attracting praise from seasoned professionals – including Britain’s former world number one Andy Murray – in the process.

Gauff insisted “age would not be a factor” when the two teenagers, who have practised together recently, played competitively for the first time.

But it was the American’s greater experience that shone through. In front of an enthralled Court Suzanne Lenglen, packed with fans eager to see two players who could be around at the top for years to come, the pair demonstrated their talent in a dramatic first set full of stunning shot-making, intense long rallies but also fragility.

Andreeva fortunate not to be defaulted after ‘stupid move’
Gauff fell a set behind on the same court in her opening match against Spain’s Rebekah Masarova, saying afterwards she told herself not to “freak out” despite having lost her previous 15 matches when falling behind.

Instead, it was Andreeva whose frustration spilled over.

The youngster received a code violation, as per Grand Slam rules, in the first-set tie-break when she thumped a ball into the crowd and it hit a spectator, although the world number 147 could have been defaulted if umpire Timo Janzen had deemed it more serious.

“Right after I thought that it was a really stupid move because it was not necessary to do that,” she said.

“It was really bad what I did. I had thoughts [about being defaulted], but he just gave me a warning.”

Andreeva regained her composure to take the first set, but was unable to maintain her level as Gauff fought back.

“Mirra is super young and has a big future,” said Gauff, who will take on Slovakia’s world number 100 Anna Karolina Schmiedlova next.

“I remember I played here when I was 16 so she has a lot to look forward to. I’m sure you’ll see a lot more matches between us.”