No.2 seed Iga Swiatek celebrated the one-year anniversary of her Roland Garros triumph in style Sunday, losing just one game in a 6-1, 6-0 win over 25th seed Veronika Kudermetova in the third round of the BNP Paribas Open. Swiatek will next face 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko.
The 2020 French Open champion is into the Round of 16 of Indian Wells in her tournament debut and has lost just five games; she beat Petra Martic 6-1, 6-3 in her opening round. Ranked a career-high No.4 coming into the tournament, Swiatek has now made the Round of 16 or better at all but two tournaments this season.
After the win, Swiatek told reporters she would be donating $50,000 of her prize money to a mental health non-profit in honor of World Mental Health Day.
"I would say in sports, for me it was always important to use that kind of help because I always thought that in my mental toughness there is some strength that I can use on court and I can also develop in that manner," Swiatek said.
The 20-year-old has traveled with sports psychologist Daria Abramowicz for the past three seasons.
"But I also know everybody has different paths, and it's great that we can choose our path because I know that there are people who also don't need psychologists. Basically, I'm not saying that, Hey, you should do that if you want to be the best, because everybody has a different personality and everybody has different needs.
"It's just good to stay open-minded. If you need that kind of help, then go for it. If you're up to it and if you're open-minded, I think it helps a lot."
Swiatek says the idea came to her mid-match.— WTA Insider (@WTA_insider) October 10, 2021
“Venus Williams inspired me a lot b/c when I saw her statement and initiative, that was so great."
Venus’ initiative w/ @WTA & BetterHealth provides $2M in free therapy to the public. #WorldMentalHealthDayhttps://t.co/J1djEhHShs
Facing Kudermetova for the second time, the 20-year-old from Poland needed just 54 minutes to pocket the victory and go 2-0 against the Russian. Striking 19 winners to just 7 unforced errors, Swiatek did not face a break point in the match. Taking advantage of the warm conditions and high-bouncing playing surface, Swiatek lost just five points on serve, winning 28 of her 33 service points.
"I was just feeling pretty confident," Swiatek said on court after the match. "Again, as in my second round, my tactics worked pretty well. I just wanted to change the rhythm sometimes so she can get a chance to sometimes miss and in some points be offensive so she can feel the pressure.
"But basically, I wanted to make a gift for my psychologist because usually when I lose there is some drama. So let's just say she has the day off today."
Asked to reflect on her incredible 12 months since dominating Roland Garros to win her maiden major without dropping a set last fall, Swiatek said her sophomore season has surpassed all expectations.
"I felt like the first period of the year from January to June it was pretty tough because we had many Grand Slams, we had Olympics," Swiatek said. "I felt a lot of pressure.
"But here I feel kind of free because even though we have the WTA finals at the end, I feel like I reached my goals and I went even higher than our goals. So I'm pretty happy about that and I feel like I can play without any expectations and just feel myself on court, which is great."
Jelena Ostapenko beats Putintseva for 30th win of the season
No.24 seed Jelena Ostapenko leveled her career head-to-head against No.43 Yulia Putintseva to advance to the Round of 16, defeating the crafty Kazakh 6-3, 2-6, 6-3. The Latvian came into the match having won one of the duo's three prior meetings, with Sunday's showdown being their first since 2019 Cincinnati. Putintseva prevailed there in three tough sets.
In a battle between Putintseva's all-court craft and Ostapenko's power, the 2017 Roland Garros champion took advantage of a strong serving day. Ostapenko served 70.8% of her first serves in to give Putintseva minimal looks at her second serve.
After a first half of the season that saw her struggle to get deep in tournaments, Putintseva has found herself on more stable ground since June. A title run on the clay in Budapest ended a two-year drought, and she came into Indian Wells off a run to the semifinals in Portoroz and final at the Astana Open.
Putintseva opened the match with an opening break but could not hold on to her 2-0 lead. From 2-3 down, Ostapenko found her range off the ground and powered her way through four consecutive games to seal the set. Putintseva began the second set with yet another 2-0 lead, but this time she refused to give Ostapenko a foothold in the set, breaking Ostapenko three times in the set to force a decider.
Having found herself behind early in the first two sets, Ostapenko turned the tables in the third. This time it was the Latvian who jumped out to a 2-0 lead and built it to an unassailable 4-1 advantage.
Putintseva mounted a comeback attempt, earning one break back to close the gap to 2-4, but Ostapenko shut the door after saving two break points to hold to 5-2. From there, the reigning Eastbourne champion fired one final forehand winner to break Putintseva for the win after 1 hour and 53 minutes.