The French Open women’s tournament, already a wild ride of upsets and unlikely success stories, was thoroughly disrupted on Sunday when unseeded Polish youngster Iga Swiatek upset No. 1 seed Simona Halep 6-1, 6-2 in the fourth round.
Swiatek, 19, won just one game against Halep in the fourth round in Paris last year, but she was the dominant force on the red clay on Sunday, dictating play with her whipping forehand and forcing Halep to lunge repeatedly to keep pace.
It was a stunning rout and one of the most lopsided defeats of the 29-year-old Halep’s career. She had won 17 straight matches in the disrupted 2020 season and 13 straight on clay. She skipped the United States Open because of concerns about traveling during the coronavirus pandemic, and trained mainly on clay during the hiatus. She returned after a six-month break to win titles on the surface at the Prague Open and Italian Open.
On Friday, Halep overwhelmed Amanda Anisimova, the American teenager who had upset her at last year’s French Open, dominating her 6-0, 6-1 this time around. Halep appeared to be in rare form and headed for another title run, but she ended up losing to another teen at this year’s Roland Garros.
Less than an hour after Halep’s defeat, Martina Trevisan, an Italian qualifier, opened up the women’s draw even further by upsetting No. 5 seed Kiki Bertens 6-4, 6-4 in the fourth round. Trevisan, ranked 159, already had defeated American teenager Coco Gauff and No. 20 seed Maria Sakkari in the tournament. She finished in style against Bertens, whose best surface is clay, whipping a backhand topspin lob winner that landed on the baseline.
“I’m living a dream, it’s true,” Trevisan said. “I came here two weeks ago to play my qualifying, but today I’m here in the quarterfinals. So oh my God, I can’t believe it.”
Swiatek’s father, Tomasz, was an Olympic rower who competed for Poland at the 1988 Summer Games in Seoul. Their last name is regularly mispronounced on the women’s tennis circuit: she politely suggests Shvee-ON-tek.
But she certainly made a name for herself on Sunday. “Even I am surprised that I can do that,” Swiatek said after closing out the victory and burying her head in a towel in her courtside seat.
Swiatek played high-risk tennis in heavy conditions, finishing with 30 winners and 20 unforced errors.
Halep won the 2018 French Open and followed that up by defeating Serena Williams to win Wimbledon in 2019. Her defeat leaves No. 3 seed Elina Svitolina as the top remaining women’s seed at Roland Garros, but Svitolina has yet to reach a Grand Slam singles final.
Only four of the 32 seeds remain in the draw: Svitolina, No. 4 Sofia Kenin, No. 7 Petra Kvitova and No. 30 Ons Jabeur.