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By Richard Pagliaro | Sunday, October 4, 2020

 
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A dominant Iga Swiatek slammed top-seeded Simona Halep 6-1, 6-2 storming into her first Roland Garros quarterfinal.

Photo credit: @RolandGarros

Fueled by a career-best 17-match winning streak, Simona Halep stepped on Court Philippe Chatrier as a strong favorite to continue her red clay run.

A commanding Iga Swiatek steamrolled the top seed right out of the tournament.

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Teeing off on heavy drives and creating acute angles, Swiatek completely overwhelmed the Wimbledon champion 6-1, 6-2 in a shocking 68-minute thrashing to reach her first Roland Garros quarterfinal.


"All the credit to her, she played unbelievable today and she was everywhere and she hit all the balls in very strong, very powerful," Halep said. "It was a little bit cold and I couldn't be at my best, but she played really well and her match was like, no, it was her match today."



About the only time Swiatek didn't have an answer was when she was asked to explain exactly how she dispensed this dominance against the game's premier clay-court player.

"I don't know what happened, actually," Swiatek said. "I felt like I was playing perfectly, and I was so focused the whole match that even I was focused that I can do that."

Humbled by Halep 6-1, 6-0 in 45 minutes at the same stage last season, Swiatek totally turned the tables hammering Halep in this rematch and denying the second-ranked Romanian her quest to supplant Ashleigh Barty as world No. 1.

The 19-year-old from Swiatek has not dropped a set storming through the draw to become the first Polish woman since Agnieszka Radwanska in 2013 to reach the Roland Garros quarterfinals.

The ease with which Swiatek dispensed this dismissal stunned even her.

"I am, I think stunned," Swiatek said. "I was thinking about [last year's loss], because as I said, it gave me, it was like a huge lesson for me. I knew that I can, like, play differently and I can finally show my best tennis.

"So I was thinking about it, but more like in a positive way because I was thinking of a whole process that I've made and progress. So, yeah, I mean it wasn't like I was scared because of that, because I lost in 45 minutes last year. It was kind of like motivating for me just to play better."



Swiatek followed a simple game plan: hit her heavy first-strike into the open court, stretch the two-time Grand Slam champion side-to-side and step in to finish with force and angle. She played brilliant offensive tennis winning eight of the first nine games and draining Halep's hope.

How dominant was the teenager today?

Swiatek did not face a single break point, clubbed 30 winners compared to 12 for the 2018 champion, won eight of nine net points and dropped only five points on first serve.

"For sure I could have done something different, like playing more balls in and trying to push her back, but it's all I had today and I couldn't make something better," Halep said. "She was really dominating the match and was really aggressive. Wow, this was bold and breathtaking tennis."

Beneath the closed Chatrier roof, Swiatek wasted no time closing the walls on the Rome champion. Whipping her kick serve to displace the 5'6" Romanian, Swiatek burst out to a 3-0 lead before Halep held.

When Swiatek wasn't slashing drives down the line, she hit some superb sharp angles keeping the ball out of Halep's strike zone going up 6-1, 2-0 before Halep fought off five break points to hold.

That was a brief reprieve.

When Swiatek wasn't busy powering drives into the corners, she played over Halep's head dispensing a drop shot to set up a rainbow lob to reach match point. 

Contesting just her seventh Grand Slam, Swiatek capped a masterclass and stunning sweep in 68 minutes ensuring there will now be a first-time French Open champion. 




The world No. 54, who will rise to at least No. 45 with this impressive performance, has permitted just 16 games through four rounds.

Next up for Swiatek is 159th-ranked Italian qualifier Martina Trevisan, who played with passion toppling fifth-seeded Kiki Bertens 6-4, 6-4.

The left-handed Trevisan, who arrived in Paris without a major match win in her career, has now stopped Camila Giorgi, 2018 Roland Garros junior champion Coco Gauff, 20th-seeded Maria Sakkari and Bertens in this career-best run. It's been an inspiring break-out story for Trevisan, who took time off from tennis to battle an eating disorder.

"I think today like during these conditions for sure she belongs here," Bertens aid of Trevisan. "I think you could see that she didn't make many mistake, she was just there every point solid, really solid, so, no, she did a great job."

Meanwhile, Swiatek competed with the conviction of a player who knows she can drive even deeper in the draw.

"This week is like a dream come true for me and I hope it's gonna be longer," Swiatek said.

The Polish teenager knows how dangerous Trevisan can be as she recalled losing to the Italian the last time they played.

"Actually I played against her on ATF like few years ago, it was my last match before surgery, so it was a long time ago," Swiatek said. "I lost, it was a match in Warsaw, so I was pretty stressed because it was in my hometown and I wanted to play well. But I don't think it's going to have, it's going to matter because it was like few years ago and right now we're in a totally different place.

"It's really nice that she went to the quarters from qualies. I mean, it's amazing. Actually I haven't watch her matches because I'm trying just to focus on my tennis and rest when I can. So we're going to prepare like tomorrow probably and my coach is going to tell me all about tactic."

 

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