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Iga Swiatek. Picture: CHRISTOPHER PIKE/GETTY IMAGES
Iga Swiatek. Picture: CHRISTOPHER PIKE/GETTY IMAGES

Paris — Defending champion Iga Swiatek overcame a minor blip to secure her spot in the third round of the French Open with a 6-4 6-0 victory over American Claire Liu on Thursday.

The world No 1, looking to lift the Suzanne Lenglen Cup for the third time in four years, started strongly before briefly struggling on Court Philippe Chatrier.

She then picked herself up quickly to end Liu's campaign in brutal fashion.

“It’s not easy when you play with the wind and change sides to play against it. I’m happy I raised my level in the second set,” Swiatek, who turned 22 on Wednesday, said.

“Patience is important, especially on clay.”

Swiatek raced to a 3-0 lead but she looked too much in a hurry and Liu pulled one of two breaks back as the Pole briefly lost her focus.

Liu levelled for 3-3 but dropped serve again as Swiatek bagged the opening set.

She did not look back, ending her opponent’s ordeal on the second match point with a backhand winner down the line.

Swiatek next faces China's Wang Xinyu.

Fourth seed Elena Rybakina booked her third-round spot with a 6-3 6-3 victory over rising Czech teenager Linda Noskova, ranked 50th, confirming her status as one of the front-runners for the title.

The Wimbledon champion, who reached this year's Australian Open final, also looked at ease on clay despite her game — a huge serve and powerful shots — being more suited to quicker surfaces.

“I think that, first of all, my first WTA win [in 2019] was on clay, so from that point I thought I actually can play on clay,” the Kazakh said.

“I think it depends where, the conditions, how is the weather, balls. Even here it's quite different from Rome, the tournament I just won.”

The 2022's runner-up Casper Ruud turned on the style before showing steel to quell Italian qualifier Giulio Zeppieri 6-3 6-2 4-6 7-5 and move into the third round.

The Estoril champion made quick work of the first set under the Parisian sun after being gifted the decisive break when Zeppieri blasted a forehand long.

The world No 4 raced through the next set to double his advantage as the left-handed Zeppieri sprayed the errors in a nervy display before regaining composure to peg Ruud back.

Ruud’s superb court coverage ensured he broke for a 3-2 lead in the fourth set but Zeppieri struck back to level at 5-5 with a fiery inside-out winner, only to surrender serve immediately and allow the Norwegian to close out the victory. 

American Kayla Day overcame compatriot and 20th seed Madison Keys 6-2 4-6 6-4, while Argentina’s Tomas Martin Etcheverry beat Australian 18th seed Alex De Minaur 6-3 7-6(2) 6-3 and 15th seed Borna Coric of Croatia was made to work hard by Pedro Cachin before prevailing 6-3 4-6 4-6 6-3 6-4.

Russian qualifier Mirra Andreeva continued to enjoy a dream Grand Slam debut as the 16-year-old stormed into the third round with a 6-1 6-2 win over Frenchwoman Diane Parry.

French veteran Gael Monfils, a former semifinalist and three-time quarter-finalist at Roland Garros, on Wednesday withdrew from the tournament citing a wrist injury, sending sixth seed Holger Rune straight into the third round.

The 36-year-old, who was due to face the Dane in Thursday’s night session on Philippe Chatrier Court, said he had received medical advice not to play any more at the French Open. — Reuters

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