Swiatek stuns top seed Halep to reach Roland Garros quarter-finals

PARIS (AFP) – Top seed and 2018 champion Simona Halep was sent crashing out of Roland Garros yesterday when Polish teenager Iga Swiatek stormed to a shock 6-1, 6-2 victory to reach the quarter-finals.

Swiatek, just 19 and ranked 54 in the world, will take on either Dutch fifth seed Kiki Bertens or Italian qualifier Martina Trevisan for a place in the semi-finals.

“I am surprised I could do this,” admitted Swiatek after ending the 17-match winning streak of Halep who was the overwhelming favourite in the absence of 2019 champion Ashleigh Barty and US Open winner Naomi Osaka and the injury-enforced withdrawal of Serena Williams.

“I felt like I played a great match,” added Swiatek who will be playing in her first quarter-finals at the majors.

It was a stunning turnaround for the Pole who won just one game against Halep at the same stage in Paris last year, getting swept off court in just 45 minutes.

“Last year I wasn’t experienced enough, it was my first match in a big stadium so I was a little stressed.

Iga Swiatek serves the ball to Simona Halep during their women’s singles fourth round tennis match of the Roland Garros 2020. PHOTO: AFP

“But I have made a lot of progress since then, playing girls like Simona, Naomi and Caroline Wozniacki. Now I can handle the pressure.”

Swiatek swept through the opening set in just 23 minutes, firing 17 winners to Halep’s four.

The teenager tightened her grip, breaking in the first game of the second set with Halep having to fight off four break points in the third game to stay afloat.

Swiatek’s assault continued against a player who arrived in Paris with claycourt titles in Prague and Rome.

Halep, 29, saved five more break points in the fifth game but a weary forehand drifted wide and her Polish opponent was 4-1 up with the cushion of a double break.

She took victory on a second match point, ending the tie in 68 minutes on the back of 30 winners and not having allowed Wimbledon champion Halep a single break point.

“I didn’t lose that match, Iga won it,” said Halep.

Swiatek’s victory was quickly followed by another surprise when Trevisan registered a 6-4, 6-4 victory over fifth seed Kiki Bertens, a semi-finalist in 2016.

The 26-year-old Trevisan, ranked 159, is the first qualifier to make the last eight since Yaroslava Shvedova in 2012.