The first week of the 2021 French Open has been quite a roller-coaster ride on the female side. It has seen the sudden exits of top seeds such as Ashleigh Barty and Naomi Osaka, which has made the women’s draw wide open.
Reigning Roland Garros champion Iga Swiatek is still very much alive, though. She has looked like the most impressive player thus far and is halfway toward successfully defending her title.
However, she could face some stiff competition from some American players like Serena
Williams, who have made the round of 16.
Read on below as SBOTOP catches you up on all the WTA action that went down during the first week of the French Open.
Swiatek title defence right on track
Iga Swiatek is on a roll at Roland Garros once again. Fresh off her impressive victory in the Rome Masters, the reigning French Open champion has kicked off her title defence with three impressive straight-sets victories.
Swiatek was taken to her first tiebreak of the tournament in her most recent match against Anett Konteveit, but the Polish powerhouse came back to shut out her opponent 6-0 in the second set for the easy victory.
Swiatek certainly feels right at home at the French Open. Her Roland Garros winning streak is now up to 10 matches in a row after she steamrolled to last year’s title, and she has not dropped a single set during her amazing run.
The absence of many of the top seeds has only improved the French Open 2021 odds of Swiatek successfully defending her crown this year.
Swiatek will face 18-year-old Marta Kostyuk in the fourth round, which will be their first career head-to-head matchup. The Ukrainian teen stunned former World No. 1 Garbine Muguruza in the first round. And if Swiatek gets past Kostyuk, she will face the winner of the Sofia Kenin-Maria Sakkari match in the quarter-finals.
Majority of top seeds crash out early
No. 4 Sofia Kenin is the highest seed left in the women’s tournament as many of the top players have already dropped out either due to injury or other circumstances.
Top-seeded Ashleigh Barty was forced to retire from her second-round match against Magda Linette due to a hip injury. Two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova also withdrew in the second round due to an ankle injury.
Meanwhile, No. 2 seed Naomi Osaka made massive French Open 2021 news when she decided to withdraw from the tournament to focus on her mental health. Admittedly, though, Osaka does not have the greatest record on clay – she has yet to reach the fourth round in the French Open in her career – so she likely would have made an early exit either way.
However, there have also been a number of top seeds who flat-out lost their matches on the court. No. 3 seed Aryna Sabalenka and No. 5 seed Elina Svitolina both lost in the third round. And No. 6 seed Bianca Andreescu and No. 12 Muguruza were both out in the very first round.
All in all, only three of the top 14 seeds – Kenin, No. 7 Serena Williams and No. 8 Swiatek – are left standing in the round of 16.
Kenin, Serena lead four Americans in fourth round
Kenin and Serena Williams – who is aiming to make more history in this year’s French Open – are just two of four American women still alive in the French Open. Coco Gauff and Sloane Stephens are also through to the fourth round.
There were guaranteed to be at least three Americans in the last 16 as Williams, Kenin, and Gauff all faced fellow compatriots in the round of 32.
Kenin was given a good fight by Jessica Pegula, who took the opening set 6-4. However, Kenin battled back and completed an impressive comeback to win in three sets.
Williams defeated Danielle Collins in straight sets, 6-4, 6-4, and Sloane Stephens upset Karolina Muchova, 6-3, 7-5.
Meanwhile, Gauff walked over to the fourth round after her opponent – Australian Open finalist Jennifer Brady – withdrew after the first set due to a foot injury.
Kenin will have the toughest fourth-round opponent of the four on paper as she faces No. 17 Maria Sakkari, who defeated Elise Mertens in three sets. Serena will face Elena Rybakina, while Stephens takes on surprise package Barbora Krejcikova. The Czech crushed No. 5 seed Elina Svitolina 6-3, 6-2 in her third-round match.
Last but not least, Gauff will go up against Ons Jabeur, who benefitted from Ash Barty’s second-round retirement. This will be the third match between Gauff and Jabeur — all of which are on clay. Gauff won in last year’s Rome Masters, but Jabeur got her revenge in the quarter-finals of this year’s Volvo Car Open in Charleston.