Defending champion Iga Swiatek swept into the third round of the French Open on Thursday, dispatching Rebecca Peterson of Sweden, 6-1, 6-1 in one hour and one minute.
The No.8 seed Swiatek has notched nine straight victories on the grounds of Roland Garros, and her victory over World No.60 Peterson was one of her most emphatic yet as she booked a spot in the third round for the third straight season.
"From the beginning, I felt like I had a good day today since I woke up, so I knew that, you know, I'm going to be in the right mood," Swiatek said in her post-match press conference. "I just kept that.
"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, who became the first-ever Polish Grand Slam singles champion last year in Paris, has now won eight straight matches on tour, having won her third career singles title in Rome in her most recent event.
Currently ranked at a career-high World No.9, Swiatek was in complete control of her first meeting with Peterson, winning 80 percent of her first-service points, and slamming 22 winners to the Swede's seven.
"Obviously the score says that it was pretty easy, and it wasn't, because [Peterson] was playing really nice balls with good rhythm," Swiatek said.
Peterson had a handful of chances on the Swiatek serve in the opening set, and the two-time WTA singles titlist got on the scoreboard at 5-0 by breaking Swiatek with a forehand winner, preventing a bagel. But that proved to be a minor blip for Swiatek as she broke straight back at love, clinching the one-set lead with a deft dropshot.
The dropshot continued to come into play during the second set as well, as Swiatek mixed that stroke even more frequently into her otherwise powerful array of groundstroke weaponry. Once again, Swiatek charged ahead 5-0, this time without even facing a break point in the set.
"I can actually confuse players with that [dropshot] because they are, like, backing up, because I play really strong topspin and really heavy balls," Swiatek said. "They are not staying close to the baseline. They're waiting for the ball to drop. I can use dropshots and surprise them because they are not ready to go forward."
At last, Peterson held serve for the very first time in the penultimate game of the match, once more putting a digit in her ledger. But that only delayed the inevitable as Swiatek charged to triple match point in the next game, then fired a forehand winner on her first chance to wrap up the win.
Swiatek will face a seeded player in the next round of her title defense when she takes on No.30 seed Anett Kontaveit of Estonia. Former Top 15 player Kontaveit had a similarly swift victory on Thursday as she breezed past French hope Kristina Mladenovic, 6-2, 6-0, in just 51 minutes.
Former Top 10 player and 2017 Roland Garros quarterfinalist Mladenovic was no match for Kontaveit on the day, as the Estonian hit 20 winners to Mladenovic's seven, and never had her serve broken.
Kontaveit does bring an eye-opening 2-0 head-to-head lead into her clash with Swiatek, including a close, gritty victory over the Pole in the round of 16 at last year's Australian Open.
Also on Thursday, Coco Gauff’s superb clay-court season continued. The American teenager eliminated Wang Qiang of China 6-3, 7-6(1) to reach the third round at Roland Garros.
The No.24 seed Gauff improved to 23-9 during 2021 after the victory over 39th-ranked Wang, moving into the third round in Paris for the first time. Her 23 match-wins this season have her in the top five for most victories on tour during the year.
The pair faced off for the first time just 12 days ago in a key match for 17-year-old Gauff -- the final in Parma, where Gauff also won in straight sets to claim her first clay-court title and second WTA singles title overall.
However, this time around, the straight-set victory was dicier, as the American was down a late break in the second set and had to stare down a set point at 5-4. But Gauff got herself out of that predicament and swept through the eventual tiebreak to collect victory in an hour and 34 minutes.
With a semifinal showing in Rome and a quarterfinal run at the Volvo Car Open in Charleston also to her credit, Gauff is now a stellar 14-3 on clay this year. Currently ranked a career-high World No.25, Gauff converted half of her eight break points to earn the win over former World No.12 Wang.
Gauff got off to a quick 3-0 start, but her momentum was nearly derailed when Wang held three break points at 3-1 after errors by the American. Gauff, though, brushed those off, reaching deuce after an amazing rally capped by a super crosscourt backhand, and held on for 4-1. Gauff eased to 5-3, where a rally forehand winner closed out the set on her third set point.
Wang found the range on her groundstrokes in the second set, as she powered her way to break leads three different times during that stanza. But each time, Gauff steeled herself and broke back, most notably when Wang served for the set at 5-3.
Wang had an even bigger chance at 5-4, when a Gauff double fault handed the Chinese player a set point. But Wang missed a backhand wide on that occasion, and Gauff gritted out the hold for 5-5.
The pair advanced to a tiebreak, which favored Gauff, who had won two-thirds of her 12 tiebreaks this season, including a 13-11 blockbuster in her first round against Aleksandra Krunic.
In this tiebreak, Gauff was dominant, firing crosscourt backhands at key moments while building a 6-1 lead. On her first match point, Gauff went down the line with a winner from that side to finish off the match.
Gauff will next become involved in an all-American showdown in the third round, where she will take on No.13 seed and 2021 Australian Open runner-up Jennifer Brady.
Brady garnered a gritty win in front of a excited crowd on Court Simonne Mathieu on Thursday, where she outlasted the top-ranked Frenchwoman Fiona Ferro, 6-4, 2-6, 7-5, in two hours and 11 minutes.
In the first meeting between the pair, Brady twice came back from a break down during a gripping final set to defeat World No.51 Ferro. Each player broke serve six times but it was Brady who had three more winners and seven fewer unforced errors than Ferro, edging out the victory.
My cutest fan 🥰 thank you for cheering for me today 🤩 🙏🏼 https://t.co/lSakHmVCTm— Jennifer Brady (@jennifurbrady95) June 3, 2021
Brady used fierce forehands to clinch key holds in her last two service games of the match, then finally broke for the hard-fought victory after a Ferro forehand found the net on the American's first match point.
For Brady, the trip into the third round in Paris is her best-ever showing in her five main-draw appearances at Roland Garros. Ferro, on the other hand, was unable to duplicate her crowd-pleasing run to the round of 16 last year.