World No.1 Iga Swiatek eased past one of her best friends in Louis Armstrong Stadium on Friday, dismissing qualifier Kaja Juvan 6-0, 6-1 to reach the Round of 16 at the 2023 US Open.
The pair have been close for nearly a decade, since their days in juniors. But defending champion Swiatek of Poland was still unwavering in collecting her third straight win over Slovenia’s Juvan, polishing off the victory after just 49 minutes of play.
Words from the winner: "My level was high, and I didn't make a lot of unforced errors," Swiatek said afterwards. "I'm happy with my performance and overall with the way I started, and then just kind of [was] disciplined and didn't change my level till the end of the match.
"I really just wanted to focus on myself, and I think also because I knew that it's going to be a little bit harder for me to focus because [Juvan is] my best friend, I was actually more focused than usual. I'm happy that I could do that and I was fully professional."
On defense: The victory is Swiatek's 10th straight win at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York City, as she aims to defend a title for the fifth time in her career.
Top-seeded Swiatek defended a title for the first time when she went back-to-back at Rome in 2021 and 2022. She defended a title three times this year as well, at Doha, Stuttgart and Roland Garros. Her successful title defense at 2023 Roland Garros marked the fourth Grand Slam title of her career.
Fast facts: Swiatek, who is spending her 74th and 75th weeks at World No.1 during this fortnight, is aiming to maintain her position at the top of the rankings. She must go at least one round further than World No.2 Aryna Sabalenka at this tournament, otherwise Sabalenka will take over at No.1.
Swiatek was helped by her breezy victory on Friday, where she had 21 winners to Juvan's two, and only five unforced errors. Swiatek never faced a break point against 145th-ranked Juvan, who has peaked at No.58 and is on the verge of returning to the Top 100 after this week.
At 22 years old, Swiatek becomes the youngest women’s player to make three consecutive Round of 16 appearances at the US Open since Caroline Wozniacki made four straight between 2008 and 2011.
Next up: Swiatek will next face a dangerous opponent when she takes on 2017 Roland Garros champion Jelena Ostapenko, the No.20 seed, in the Round of 16. Ostapenko overcame American hope Bernarda Pera 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 later on Friday.
Latvia's Ostapenko has had Swiatek's number in their rivalry. Ostapenko has won all three of their previous matches, including handing Swiatek her last loss directly before the World No.1's historic 37-match winning streak last year.