No. 1 Iga Swiatek overcomes errors to win 31st match in row, is only top-10 woman left in French Open

Top-ranked Iga Swiatek won her 31st consecutive match and advanced into the fourth round at Roland Garros for the fourth time in four appearances with a sometimes shaky 6-3, 7-5 victory over Danka Kovinic on Saturday.

Swiatek, the 2020 French Open champion, has collected 48 of the past 49 sets she has played. Her winning streak is the longest in women’s tennis since Serena Williams won 34 in a row in 2013.

The victory improved Swiatek’s career record at the clay-court Grand Slam tournament to 17-2, a winning percentage of .895.

“Thinking about all these stats, it’s not really helpful. So basically I try to be really strict in terms of my thoughts and try to really focus on … finding solutions,” Swiatek said. “The thoughts are there, but I’m accepting that.”

Swiatek is the only remaining top-10 seed in the women’s draw after No. 3 Paula Badosa and No. 7 Aryna Sabalenka were eliminated Saturday. This is the first time in the Open era that only one top-10 woman made it to the fourth round at Roland Garros and just the second time at any major (2018 Wimbledon), according to ESPN Stats & Information research. Only one time in the Open era has just one men’s top-10 player made it to the fourth round, at the 1998 French Open, according to ESPN Stats & Info data.

Badosa retired from her match against No. 29 Veronika Kudermetova while trailing 6-3, 2-1, and Sabalenka lost 4-6, 6-1, 6-0 to Camila Giorgi.

This one was not entirely smooth sailing for Swiatek against the 95th-ranked Kovinic. Swiatek’s forehand was a particular trouble spot: That stroke was responsible for 17 of her 23 unforced errors.

The 20-year-old from Poland dropped four straight games to trail 5-4 in the second set before righting herself and claiming the last three to wrap up the win in 90 minutes.

Kovinic was playing in the third round at a Grand Slam tournament for the second time. The other was at the Australian Open in January, when she lost to eventual champion Ash Barty.

Barty retired in March and was replaced at No. 1 in the WTA rankings by Swiatek.

After Saturday’s setback, Kovinic said she was dealing with a nerve issue in her right shoulder and felt tingling in that arm and two fingers. She also said she made sure to deliver a message to Swiatek when they shook hands at the net.

“I told her, ‘Keep going.’ It’s really great for tennis, for our sport, what she’s doing,” Kovinic said. “Obviously, she has something extra that the rest of us don’t have. She has something special. What it is, I don’t know.”

Swiatek will next face Zheng Qinwen, who became the fourth Chinese woman to reach the fourth round at the French Open, doing so in her tournament debut.

The 74th-ranked Zheng was leading 6-0, 3-0 when her opponent, Alize Cornet, stopped playing because of what she said was a torn muscle in her upper left leg.

Cornet’s withdrawal drew boos from the Court Philippe Chatrier crowd, which the French player said “hurt more than my injury itself.”

“What is amazing that people dared to boo me on the court when I had to abandon the match, and it was because I was in pain,” Cornet said. “But sometimes the French audience surprises me and not always in the right direction.”

Cornet said she was injured during her previous match, a win over 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko, and considered not playing at all against Zheng, a 19-year-old competing in only her second Grand Slam tournament.

“You can’t generalize things,” Cornet said. “It was just a handful of people in the stadium, so maybe they made a lot of noise. But it’s really too much when you see everything I’ve been giving on the court for so many years. I think it would have been far easier for me not to come on to the court, not to put myself, make myself vulnerable with this injury.

“So, yeah, no, it’s a real pain because it’s unfair, and when things are unfair, it hurts. But once again, most of the people are no doubt sad for me and understand what’s happening, but this handful of idiots really, really, really makes you feel bad.”

Li Na, Zhang Shuai and Zheng Jie are the other women from China to get this far at Roland Garros. Li won the 2011 French Open and the 2014 Australian Open and is the only Chinese tennis player with a major singles title.

Irina-Camelia Begu reached the fourth round at a Grand Slam tournament for the first time in six years, getting there at Roland Garros one match after being fined $10,000 for tossing her racket and having it brush a child in the stands.

The 63rd-ranked player from Romania advanced by beating 227th-ranked French wild-card entry Leolia Jeanjean 6-1, 6-4.

Begu is 31 and participating in his 41st major tournament. Her best showings previously were fourth-round runs at the 2015 Australian Open and 2016 French Open.

Jeanjean was appearing in her first tour-level event and beat two-time major finalist and former No. 1 Karolina Pliskova in the second round.

In other third-round women’s matches, No. 11 Jessica Pegula advanced with a 6-1, 7-6 (2) win over Tamara Zidansek and No. 20 Daria Kasatkina defeated Shelby Rogers 6-3, 6-2.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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