World No.2 Simona Halep was full of praise for 19-year-old Iga Swiatek, after the Polish phenom played a near-perfect match to defeat the Romanian 6-1, 6-2 in the fourth round of Roland Garros.
Firing 30 winners in 15 games, generating 14 break points, and never facing a break point on her own serve, Swiatek tallied her first Top 10 win to advance to her first major 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 told reporters after the match.
"It was a little bit cold and I couldn't be at my best, but, yeah, she played really well and it was her match today."
Halep and Swiatek met at the same stage last year at Roland Garros, where Halep gave the youngster a 45-minute lesson, defeating the nervous teenager 6-1, 6-0. Halep said she struggled to get the ball consistently deep to push Swiatek off the baseline this time.
"I knew she was going to be aggressive," Halep said. "I knew that she's playing this way. Today it worked really well for her, every ball. She was very confident, she was powerful, so it was a great match for her.
"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, yeah, I couldn't make something better. She was really dominating the match and was really aggressive.
"I think she has the same game like last year when we played, but last year maybe I played a little bit better in the way that I pushed her back more and she didn't have this time to just kill the ball.
"Today it was better for her. I think if she feels the ball she can be great a little bit under the shoulder and inside the court. So she did that and she found some great angles today.
The loss ends Halep's career-best winning streak of 17 consecutive matches and assures Ashleigh Barty will remain World No.1 at the end of the tournament. Asked to reflect on the disappointment, Halep said the worldwide events of the year make it easy to keep her perspective.
"I realize that it was a fantastic year with all the tough moments that we all had, so I'm not going to ruin the whole year just for a match," Halep said. "Of course it's not easy to take it, but I'm used to some tough moments in this career.
"So I will have a chocolate and I will be better tomorrow."
As Halep bowed out of the tournament, No.5 Kiki Bertens did as well. The two were projected to meet in the quarterfinals, but Italy's Martina Trevisan continued her Cinderella run through Paris, stunning Bertens 6-4, 6-4. She will face Swiatek in a quarterfinal few penciled in when the tournament began.
"I think at this level nobody surprises anybody anymore because everyone has a big level and it depends on the day that you are," Halep said. "So Swiatek played really well and she deserved to win today and probably Trevisan did the same thing, if she won and she's in the quarterfinals. So it's going to be good match between both of them."
Looking ahead, Halep confirmed that she intends to play the Australian Open, but for now she is looking forward to enjoying her rest after a successful season, which included three titles in Dubai, Prague, and Rome, and a semifinal run at the Australian Open.
"It was great to have some matches on the clay and the fact that I won Rome made my year so I'm all good," Halep said with a laugh.
"[I'm looking forward] to have some rest, to go walking on the streets because here I was really, really bored. To stay with my family and to enjoy the time off because I'm really happy with the way I have played this year, so I'm going to enjoy the rest."