Defending champion's brutal statement amid Ash Barty heartbreak

·Sports Editor
·3-min read
Iga Swiatek and Ash Barty, pictured here at the French Open.
Iga Swiatek made a statement after Ash Barty was forced to withdraw. Image: Getty

Iga Swiatek has cemented her status as the woman to beat at the French Open with a brutal 6-1 6-1 thrashing of Rebecca Peterson on Thursday.

Just hours after World No.1 Ash Barty was forced to make a heartbreaking exit due to a debilitating hip injury, Swiatek showed she's a force to be reckoned with.

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The Polish 20-year-old needed just 61 minutes to send Peterson packing, sending a clear message to those wanting to snatch the title she won in 2020.

Swiatek, who took Roland Garros by storm last October to become the first Polish player to win a grand slam singles title, led 5-0 in both sets in a near-perfect display full of power, flair and control.

Not even a dip in temperature on Court Simonne-Mathieu and some drops of rain could slow down the onslaught as she set up a clash with 30th seed Anett Kontaveit.

"I felt like I would have a good day today since I woke up this morning, I knew I'm going to be in the right mood," Swiatek told reporters.

"I did my routines before the match. Then when I was on the court, I just felt the ball perfectly. 

"I felt like I could do anything with it. So I'm pretty happy that I had this attitude right now."

Swiatek now has a golden opportunity to win her second grand slam title, with the three highest-ranked female players in the world all missing.

Barty's injury disaster came after World No.2 Naomi Osaka withdrew on Monday following backlash over her controversial media boycott.

World No.3 and 2018 champion Simona Halep is also missing having torn her calf at the Italian Open prior to Roland Garros.

Aryna Sabalenka, who has never made it past the fourth round at Roland Garros, is the highest-ranked female remaining in the draw, while 23-time grand slam champion Serena Williams is also lurking.

The 39-year-old is one major away from equalling Margaret Court's all-time record and will be keen to capitalise in Paris.

Ash Barty, pictured here leaving the court after retiring hurt against Magda Linette.
Ash Barty leaves the court after retiring hurt against Magda Linette. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Ash Barty heartbroken after injury disaster

Barty was left devastated on Thursday after her French Open dream was crushed when she was forced to retire in pain during her second round match with Poland's Magda Linette.

The World No.1's bid to regain the title she won in 2019 ended in hugely anti-climactic circumstances as she struggled to move freely, hitting weak serves and in obvious discomfort.

After losing the first set 6-1 she underwent a medical timeout to see if she could somehow battle through the match, but after a brief revival at the start of the second set she cut a despondent figure as she offered her hand to Linette with the scores locked at 2-2.

"It's heartbreaking," she said in her post-match press conference.

"We've had such a brilliant clay-court season, and to get a little bit unlucky with the timing of this injury, with something acute happening over the weekend and just running out of time, it's disappointing.

"But It won't take away the brilliant three months that we have had, as much as it hurts right now.

"I've had my fair share of tears this week. It's all good. Everything happens for a reason. There will be a silver lining in this eventually."

with AAP

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