PARIS, France - Polish teenager Iga Swiatek kept up her winning ways at Roland Garros, dispatching the always dangerous Hsieh Su-Wei, 6-1, 6-4 to return to the third round for a second straight year.
"I was pretty confident," she said in her post-match press conference. "When I look at the draw, I don't care who I'm going to play, because I have a feeling that I have to win with everybody to win a tournament so it doesn't really matter."
Trailing 4-1 in the second set, Swiatek played impeccable tennis to ease past the veteran and advance after 67 minutes on Court 7.
Though the pair were facing off for the first time in singles, Swiatek shared a history with Hsieh that dates back nearly a decade, having shared the court with the WTA Doubles World No.1 during a clinic in Warsaw.
"In the back of my mind I was a little bit worried, because she has a strange style of game. I have never played against her. I remember that we played a practice...well, besides the match that we played when I was, like, 10 years old, we didn't play against each other. I just practiced with her for 20 minutes in Cincinnati last year."
😍Who would've thought that I already played doubles with one of the best doubles players in the world?— Iga Świątek (@iga_swiatek) September 10, 2020
10 years later we're on the same tour and I'm able to compete at this level on a daily basis...😍 #ballkid #warsawopen pic.twitter.com/pbL1UX5lua
Both women have achieved much since that fateful afternoon, with the Polish teenager continuing to make milestones in Paris, shocking 2019 runner-up Marketa Vondrousova in the first round.
"You always have to be alert when you play Grand Slams. I feel more confident basically after the first round, so I think it helps a lot. I just feel better here than on other tournaments.
"The fact that I won the first match so 'easily,' as it may seem from the score, it just gave me confidence, so I think it helps."
The unseeded Swiatek was similarly ruthless to start their second round on Tuesday, striking nine winners to sweep through the opening set in under 30 minutes.
"I was kind of worried that I'm gonna struggle to find the rhythm, because her spin is so weird and it's always like she doesn't play topspin. On clay, it's especially weird. When the balls are really heavy, that may be tricky, but I think I just played aggressive and I didn't let her play her game."
Hsieh, the 2014 women's doubles champion, reached the third round of Roland Garros back in 2017 with a win over British No.1 Johanna Konta - kicking off a singles renaissance that saw her defeat the likes of Agnieszka Radwanska, Garbiñe Muguruza, and Simona Halep over the next 18 months - and began the second set with a first hold of serve, smacking a two-handed forehand into the open court.
Another winner, this time off the backhand side, secured the break for the Chinese Taipei veteran and helped her within a point of a 3-0 lead. While Swiatek bravely battled through a marathon third game that saw her convert a sixth break point opportunity, Hsieh was undaunted and moved ahead 4-1.
"I was struggling at the beginning of second set. I think I lost my focus basically, and my dialogue to myself wasn't very optimistic because I was thinking all the time that I can't find the rhythm.
"I just changed that immediately when I realized that it got out of control. I think everything was in my head, because tactically I played very well in first set, and in last five games of second set."
Swiatek caught fire from there, overpowering Hsieh in an aggressive display to win 20 of the final 25 points to roar into the Round of 32. Serving for the match, the teen punctuated the contest with one last backhand blast.
"I just have a different mindset. I love the courts and I love like being here. I love the surface. I always have like good memories from here, even when I lost the matches that I shouldn't, like in 2018. I mean, it's not that I shouldn't, because Caty McNally played very well in semifinal of juniors, but I kind of wanted to win the whole Grand Slam, so I was disappointed.
"But I always learned a lot here, and most of big steps that I had in my career was basically here. Even last year when I lost against Simona on Philippe Chatrier and the match was, it lasted like 40 minutes, it was a big lesson for me."
In all, she struck 24 winners to 17 unforced errors and converted six of 16 break point opportunities, winning nearly 60% of points played on the Hsieh serve. Though Hsieh impressed early in the second set, a 20% winning percentage behind her second serve ultimately proved her undoing.
Standing between Swiatek and a return to the second week in Paris is former World No.5 Eugenie Bouchard, who rallied from a set down to defeat Daria Gavrilova to enjoy her best run on the terre battue since reaching the semifinals in 2014.
"I was so focused on this round. I wasn't even thinking about third round. So I'm just going to talk with my coach about it, really."