Swiatek sends ominous warning at Open

·3-min read

Defending champion Iga Swiatek says she feels like she can do anything she wants with the ball after reaching the French Open third round with an ominous 6-1 6-1 demolition of Rebecca Peterson.

On a day when top-ranked Ash Barty retired injured from the tournament, the 20-year-old needed only 61 minutes to overwhelm Peterson to send out a clear message to those wanting to snatch the title.

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.

Even a dip in temperature on Court Simonne-Mathieu and some drops of rain could not slow down Swiatek's onslaught as she set up a clash with 30th seed Anett Kontaveit who was equally impressive in thrashing Kristina Mladenovic.

"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."

The burden of being the defending champion at a grand slam has overwhelmed many players more experienced than Swiatek.

But so far she appears completely comfortable in the role and with so many big names already out, she looks to be the favourite.

"At the Australian Open I didn't actually know how I'm going to react to my new situation," she said. "I was more nervous and more stressed.

"I just realised that I can actually play without any expectations, because there are many stories when after going to a tournament as a defending champion players have some issues.

"I just told myself, there may be a situation that you're not gonna play as well as you did last couple of years in Paris, so just, relax and we're gonna see what's gonna happen."

Meanwhile world No.6 Elina Svitolina turned to psychology to help her cruise to a 6-0 6-4 victory over American Ann Li.

Svitolina, seeking her maiden grand slam title, revealed she has signed up for online psychology courses in a bid to cope with the drastic changes in the professional athlete's lifestyle in a post-COVID world.

"I'm very interested in psychology," the fifth-seeded Ukrainian told a press conference on Thursday.

"I think it's very important, especially these days with everything what's happening with COVID, with all the restrictions that we get and anything that happens with athletes.

"It's important to keep yourself really composed, really like sane with your mind."

Up next for Svitolina is Czech Barbora Krejcikova, who defeated Russia's 32nd seed Ekaterina Alexandrova 6-2 6-3.

Last year's runner-up Sofia Kenin advanced to the third round with a 7-5 6-3 win over Hailey Baptiste.

Former US Open champion Sloane Stephens returned well and used her defensive skills to defuse world No.10 Karolina Pliskova's power for a 7-5 6-1 victory.

AP/Reuters