Swiatek labours past Liu and into third round at French Open

By Paul Myers - RFI
Europe AP - Aurelien Morissard
JUN 1, 2023 LISTEN
AP - Aurelien Morissard

It was far from fluent but top seed Iga Swiatek scrapped her way into the last 32 at the French Open on Thursday with a 6-4, 6-0 win over Claire Liu from the United States. 

Swiatek broke Liu's opening service game and notched up her first ace of the match on her way to a 2-0 lead.

Within 17 minutes she was 3-0 up but the 22-year-old Pole unravelled. She lost three consecutive games but arrested her decline with a break of serve to nudge 4-3 ahead.

Even with an advantage renewed, she struggled. She fought off a break point as she eventually moved to 5-3. The set was hers 6-4 after 55 mins.

The 6-0 scoreline from the second set belied the closeness of the 81 minute contest.

But Swiatek, seeking to become only the sixth woman to defend her crown in Paris since the tournament was opened to professionals, will have little concern about such justice. There will be questions on how to inject more incision from her serve.

Even when trying to close out the contest she had to fend off a break point. 

"It's not easy playing in the wind," she explained during her on-court interview with former player Alex Corretja.

"Obviously the second set was better than the first. Claire was playing well."

Fourth seed Elena Rybakina dispatched Linda Noskova 6-3, 6-3 to reach the third round for the third year on the trot.

"It was a tough match for me," said the 23-year-old from Kazakhstan.

"A lot of ups and downs from my side. She's a great player and she was serving really well. So I'm just happy to get to another round."

On Saturday, she will play Sara Sorribes Tormo who enjoyed a straight sets win over Petra Martic from Croatia.

The home crowds lost local heroine Diane Parry. Teen sensation Mirra Andreeva crushed the 20-year-old 6-1, 6-2 to reach the third round for the first time at a Grand Slam tournament.

In the men's draw, last year's runner-up Casper Ruud progressed to the third round. The 24-year-old Norwegian beat Giulio Zeppieri from Italy 6-3, 6-2, 4-6, 7-5.

The unseeded Argentine Thomas Etcheverry saw off the 18th seed Alex de Minaur in straight sets and the veteran Grigor Dimitrov also enjoyed a straights win.

The 32-year-old Bulgarian beat Emil Ruusuvuori from Finland 7-6, 6-3, 6-4.