Reigning champion Iga Swiatek celebrated her 23rd birthday by brushing aside Marie Bouzkova to reach the French Open last 16 on Friday, while Jannik Sinner and Carlos Alcaraz both powered into the second week.

Alcaraz got the better of Sebastian Korda in straight sets to edge closer to a semi-final meeting with Sinner, who saw off Russian Pavel Kotov 6-4, 6-4, 6-4.

“Sebastian Korda is a great player and a really good ball striker,” Alcaraz said.

“It was difficult to play against him. He had to run a lot. It was like a marathon for him today.”

Sixth seed Andrey Rublev suffered a shock exit at the hands of unheralded Italian Matteo Arnaldi, losing his cool repeatedly as anger at his performance boiled over.

Swiatek had to save a match point to avoid an upset defeat by fellow four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka in a second-round thriller, but she was never in trouble during a 6-4, 6-2 win over Czech Bouzkova.

“I feel good physically, I had a day off yesterday,” said Swiatek. “I don’t feel like the match (against Osaka) stayed with me but we’ll see at the end of the tournament.”

The world number one is a red-hot favorite to lift the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen for a third straight year and become only the fourth woman to win four Roland Garros titles in the Open era.

She was much closer to her best form on Friday, hitting 34 winners and making only 19 unforced errors.

Swiatek will play Russia’s Anastasia Potapova in the next round on Sunday.

The Polish star’s win-loss record at the tournament stands at 32-2 and she has never failed to reach the second week.

Coco Gauff held off a late fightback from Australian Open semi-finalist Dayana Yastremska to win 6-2, 6-4 in the first match of the day on Court Philippe Chatrier.

The reigning US Open champion has an excellent record at Roland Garros, having previously reached two quarter-finals and the 2022 final which she lost to Swiatek.

The 20-year-old failed to serve out the match when leading 5-2 in the second set, but saved three break points in the 10th game before getting over the line, making the fourth round for a fourth straight year.

When it was time to close out and the games were getting close and tight, Gauff said she tried to just remind herself she was in the better position.

She was the one up a set and double break, so she was just reminding herself of that.

Gauff will play Elisabetta Cocciaretto for a last-eight berth, after the unseeded Italian beat Russian 17th seed Liudmila Samsonova in straight sets.


Angry Rublev Crashes Out 

Rublev became the biggest casualty in the men’s draw so far, as he fell to a surprise straight-sets defeat by Italian Matteo Arnaldi.

Rublev, who lifted the Madrid Open title last month, repeatedly smashed his racket in frustration as he made 37 unforced errors in an erratic display.

Rublev admitted he was completely disappointed with himself regarding his behavior and performance.

The problem was his head; he basically killed himself today, and that’s it.

Arnaldi will face former runner-up Stefanos Tsitsipas in round four after the Greek downed China’s Zhang Zhizhen 6-3, 6-3, 6-1.

Sinner barely had to break a sweat, saving the only break point he faced in a dominant display against Kotov.

The Australian Open champion, who will overtake Novak Djokovic as world number one if he reaches the final, will next take on home hope Corentin Moutet who came from behind to defeat Sebastian Ofner in four sets.

Sinner, who has only lost two matches so far this year, is yet to drop a set in the tournament.

Wimbledon champion Alcaraz came through a potentially tough test against American 27th seed Korda 6-4, 7-6 (7/5), 6-3 in the night session.

The world number three blasted 38 winners past his opponent to book a meeting with either Ben Shelton or Felix Auger-Aliassime, whose match was one of three men’s ties suspended overnight due to rain.

Alcaraz has now reached at least the fourth round in his last eight Grand Slam events.

Elsewhere in the women’s draw, Wimbledon champion Marketa Vondrousova ended the run of Frenchwoman Chloe Pacquet, winning 6-1, 6-3.

She will next face Serbian qualifier Olga Danilovic, who backed up her upset win over Danielle Collins with another comeback victory in a deciding-set tie-break against Donna Vekic.

Tunisian eighth seed Ons Jabeur beat Leylah Fernandez, teeing up a fourth-round match with Clara Tauson, after the Dane followed her surprise second-round success against 2017 champion Jelena Ostapenko by knocking out former finalist Sofia Kenin.

With AFP