PARIS, France -- Defending champion Simona Halep of Romania swiftly moved into the Roland Garros quarterfinals for the third straight year by ending the run of rapidly-rising Polish teenager Iga Swiatek, 6-1, 6-0 on Court Philippe Chatrier on Monday.
No.3 seed Halep’s deep hitting and vast reserves of experience proved to be too much for Swiatek to overcome in the Pole’s first-ever fourth-round appearance at a Grand Slam event, and the reigning titleholder, who also reached the final in Paris in 2014 and 2017, eased to victory after 45 minutes of play.
"I expected a very tough one," Halep said in her post-match press conference. "So I was ready for that, but it was much better than I thought."
"Every match is tough at this level," Halep added. "So if you're in the second week, your expectations are bigger. So I expect more from myself. Today I was really good on court, and I'm happy about that. Next round is just a big challenge to go through this tournament. It's my favorite Grand Slam, so I will do my best."
Halep converted seven of her ten break points during the encounter, had 17 winners, and limited her unforced error count to a paltry five. The former World No.1 won 84 percent of points on her first serve, and 73 percent of points returning the Swiatek serve.
Swiatek, who turned 18 on Friday and reached her first WTA singles final on clay in Lugano earlier this year, had a noteworthy run to her first-ever second week showing at a major, but was overcome by last year’s champion. The Polish youngster fired 13 winners in the match but was undone by 19 unforced errors, and could only win five of her 19 first-service points during the clash.
"I played my best tennis," said Halep. "I prefer to play like that. But [Swiatek] needs many matches on those courts. She needs time. But for sure she will be high because at [age] 18, if you're playing fourth round of a Grand Slam, that means a lot. So she will be all right after this."
In the elite eight, Halep will face the winner of the final fourth-round match to be completed, 17-year-old Amanda Anisimova of the United States, who defeated 21-year-old Spanish qualifier Aliona Bolsova.
"To play against someone ten years younger than me, that's not easy," Halep said with a smile. "But I feel stronger on court, today I felt, actually. We'll see [with] the next one. They're young, they have nothing to lose, so every match is tough."
Swiatek struggled in the first game of arguably the biggest match of her career to date, dropping serve with a double fault and two forehand miscues. By contrast, Halep was expectedly steely to start, holding for 2-0, then earning a 3-0, double-break advantage, closing out that game with back-to-back points won with forehand winners.
Halep earned a third service break to reach 5-0 before Swiatek was able to get on the board, and the teenager grasped one service break back with stronger returning and bigger hitting from the forehand side. But Halep recouped that break in the following game, crunching returns to hold two set points, and converting the second after Swiatek put a backhand into the net.
It was a similar story in the second set, as Halep notched a quick break with a forehand winner on break point to lead 2-0. The forehand was clicking for the Romanian at this point, as she followed up a strong serve with another winner off of that wing to convert a hold for 3-0.
Swiatek had no answers in the next game as Halep reached triple break point by slamming two return winners and another fierce forehand, and the teenager ceded the 4-0 lead with a netted backhand error. The match ended two games later, as Halep closed out the bagel with one final forehand winner, to complete her smooth passage into the quarterfinals.