Paris, Jun 9 (EFE).- Polish defending champion Iga Swiatek became the latest upset victim in the French Open women’s singles, falling to Greece’s Maria Sakkari 6-4, 6-4 Wednesday in the quarterfinal stage.
Earlier in the day, American teen sensation Coco Gauff seemed in control of her last-eight contest in the early going but squandered five set points and then fell apart in the second set in a 7-6 (8-6), 6-3 loss to the Czech Republic’s Barbora Krejcikova.
Swiatek, who won the 2020 Roland Garros without dropping a set and came into this event with confidence after winning this year’s Italian Open, was one of the top favorites at the start of the fortnight.
She then became the clear favorite after Japanese world No. 2 Naomi Osaka withdrew amid controversy over her refusal to speak to the media, Australian world No. 1 Ashleigh Barty was forced to retire with an injury and American three-time champion Serena Williams was upset in the fourth round by Kazakhstan’s Elena Rybakina.
Swiatek’s match began as expected with the ninth-ranked Pole holding serve and then striking first with a service break in the second game.
But the always-fiery Sakkari got the break back immediately and saved four break points before holding serve in a 14-point game to level the set at 2-2.
After the two players each held their serves over the next four games, Sakkari leveraged her sudden superiority from the baseline to earn a key break in the ninth game.
Strong serving then enabled her to stave off a break point in the ensuing game, and she clinched the set by capping off a 15-ball rally with a backhand down-the-line winner.
Sakkari continued to control the action in the second set, jumping out to an early service-break lead and then creating two more break points in the fifth game that she failed to covert.
But the world No. 18 ended up not needing any more service breaks, finishing off the match with three straight holds in which she dropped only three points.
Afterward, Sakkari said she is happy with the win but concentrating on the task ahead.
“I don’t want to get too excited because I don’t have a day off tomorrow,” she said. “I still have to play, stay focused. But it’s a big achievement, for sure.”
Earlier Wednesday, the 25th-ranked Gauff raced out to a 3-0 first-set lead with some impressive serving and ball striking and later earned her first set point when serving at 5-3, 40-30 and two more with Krejcikova serving down 5-6.
The smooth-hitting Czech fought off all of them to force a tiebreaker yet faced two more set points at 4-6, saving the first when Gauff made an error and the second on a pinpoint backhand winner down-the-line.
Striking the ball with increasing authority and confidence, the 33rd-ranked Krejcikova wrapped up the set two points later by following up a serve out wide with a forehand winner into the opposite corner.
In the second set, Gauff suffered through a brutal stretch in which she lost 14 straight points, most of them due to unforced errors, and ended up falling behind 5-0.
The 17-year-old American, however, showed plenty of grit and determination to fight off five match points and narrow her opponent’s lead to 5-3.
Krejcikova was able to settle her nerves though and finally finished off the match when Gauff sent a wild forehand well wide of the sideline.
Afterward, the Czech player admitted that doubts were starting to creep in as the American made her second-set comeback.
“It actually came to my mind,” Krejcikova said afterward. “I can say that. Why not? But I’m like, ‘You got to be aggressive, you just got to go, you got to play, you are still up.'”