French Open: Firm favourite Swiatek fends off Kostyuk to reach quarter-finals

By Sports Desk June 07, 2021

Defending champion Iga Swiatek overcame a strong challenge from Marta Kostyuk to reach the French Open quarter-finals.

Swiatek is the only top-10 player in the last eight of the women's draw at Roland Garros after beating the 18-year-old Kostyuk 6-3 6-4 on Monday.

Playing her first night match on Court Philippe-Chatrier, Swiatek came from a break down in a thrilling first set and went on to book a meeting with Maria Sakkari – conqueror of last year's runner-up Sofia Kenin.

Eighth seed Swiatek has won 22 consecutive sets at the Paris grand slam and is a strong favourite to win back-to-back titles.

Swiatek, who won a marathon doubles match in combination with Bethanie Mattek-Sands on Sunday, was 2-1 down in the opening set as world number 81 Kostyuk was rewarded for her positive approach.

The 20-year-old Pole responded like a champion, though, breaking back immediately and again after fending off two break points to take a 4-3 lead.

Swiatek, demonstrating her great power and precision, served out the opening set and went a break up at 2-1 in the second, but Kostyuk – playing at this stage of a grand slam for the first time –was not finished yet.

The teenager defended brilliantly and showed great speed over the court as she broke back to level at 2-2 when Swiatek netted a backhand.

Yet Swiatek edged back in front when Kostyuk put a backhand of her own into the net and sealed victory with a magnificent winner – her 24th of an entertaining match.

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  • French Open: Irina-Camelia Begu issues apology after thrown racquet hits child French Open: Irina-Camelia Begu issues apology after thrown racquet hits child

    Irina-Camelia Begu issued an apology after a racquet she threw into the ground bounced into the crowd and struck a child at the French Open.

    The Romanian was playing in a second-round match against Ekaterina Alexandrova and was down a break in the third set when the incident happened.

    The match was suspended as the young boy, who was sitting near the umpire's chair, was left in tears and being comforted by his parents.

    Begu was issued a warning but avoided a default and went on to win the match 6-7 (3-7) 6-3 6-4.

    She later posed for pictures with the boy and said sorry for her moment of frustration at a post-match news conference.

    "Well, it's an embarrassing moment for me, so I don't want to talk too much about it. I just want to apologise," she said.

    "My whole career I didn't do something like this, and I feel really bad and sorry. So I'm just going to say again, sorry for the incident and it was just an embarrassing moment for me.

    "It was a difficult moment because I didn't want to hit that racquet. You hit the clay with the racquet, but you never expect [it] to fly that much."

    A statement circulated by the French Tennis Federation from tournament referee Remy Azemar said: "The grand slam supervisor spoke with the parents who were with the child. The parents confirmed that the child was fine and not injured."

    It said the racquet had "brushed a young spectator".

    The incident was reminiscent of the 2020 US Open when men's world number one Novak Djokovic was defaulted when a ball he struck in anger hit a line judge.

    Begu faces local favourite Leolia Jeanjean in round three.

  • French Open: Tsitsipas through against "complete player" Kolar French Open: Tsitsipas through against "complete player" Kolar

    Stefanos Tsitsipas called Zdenek Kolar a "complete player", despite ultimately defeating his Czech opponent in the second round of the French Open.

    Tsitsipas was relatively untroubled in the first set, but was made to work for the win after that as he and Kolar exchanged one tie-break each before the number four seed finally secured victory with another tie-break in the fourth set, sealing it 6-3 7-6 (10-8) 6-7 (3-7) 7-6 (9-7).

    Kolar is ranked 134th in the world but looked every bit a threat to Tsitsipas on Court Suzanne-Lenglen, hitting 57 winners and succeeding with 29 of 37 net points (78 per cent).

    Speaking at a news conference after his win, Tsitsipas explained the difficulties he experienced, saying: "He's someone I knew a little bit. It's never easy playing guys that don't really play on the ATP Tour. You don't really know what to expect. I guess they play more free.

    "It's always like this. They really have a nothing-to-lose mentality. It's a different mentality than what we have, I think, which sometimes can really be brutal on the court and create some good tennis.

    "He was really pushing a lot today, getting after every ball. His body was behind every ball. Running fast, reacting fast. Good net game. Complete player, I would say. Yeah, it wasn't easy out there to face him and come up with some good solutions."

    Tsitsipas - who hit 25 aces - displayed some of his oft-seen frustration as he struggled to stay on top of his opponent, and was asked if his hardest obstacle was Kolar or himself.

    "I guess both today," he said. "I had a lot of opportunities, break points, playing quite well, staying within the game. He was coming up with some really good ideas and I think dealt with all of the situations so maturely, not overexaggerating anything. He's an intelligent player, I would say.

    "Look, last year there were moments where it was about me and the way I deal with situations on the court, not focusing that much on who is on the other side. It's all about perspective. It's sometimes good to focus on what you are doing, but also if you're not feeling great, you have to see the other side too."

    Having rallied from two sets down to beat Lorenzo Musetti in the first round, and now being made to work hard by Kolar, Tsitsipas will now face Mikael Ymer after the Swede beat 29th seed Dan Evans on Thursday.

  • French Open: 'We are responsible for our racket' – Alexandrova heated after racket slam incident in loss French Open: 'We are responsible for our racket' – Alexandrova heated after racket slam incident in loss

    Ekaterina Alexandrova said the "rules were against" her after she lost to Irina-Camelia Begu at the French Open, where her Romanian opponent accidentally hit a child in the crowd with her racket.

    The incident occurred in the third set of the second round match on Thursday, with Begu slamming her racket in frustration after a lost point, inadvertently bouncing it off the court's surface and into the crowd, where it struck the youngster.

    Begu has since apologised, calling it "embarrassing".

    There was a short break in play as officials and supervisors checked on the crying child, before ultimately deciding to give Begu a code violation for unsportsmanlike conduct.

    Once play resumed, Begu immediately broke Alexandrova's serve, and won six of the next eight games to seal a 6-7 (3-7) 6-3 6-4 victory.

    In an Instagram post after her loss, Alexandrova expressed her disappointment, suggesting the rules had been against her.

    "So disappointed to leave [Roland Garros] like that, I was trying to do my best, but seems like the rules were against me today," she wrote. "This shouldn't be happening. 

    "I hope after today's match rules will be improved for everyone's safety. We are responsible for our racket."

    Speaking to the media after her win, Begu was apologetic for her actions.

    "Well, it's an embarrassing moment for me. I just want to apologise," she said. "My whole career I didn't do something like this, and I feel really bad and sorry. 

    "So I'm just going to say again, sorry for the incident and, yeah, it was just an embarrassing moment for me.

    She added: "It was a difficult moment because I didn't want to hit that racket, you know. 

    "You hit the clay with the racket, but you never expect [it] to fly that much. 

    "It was, as I said, embarrassing moment for me, and I just want to end it and not talk about it."

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