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Simona Halep stunned at French Open as women’s draw bursts

Simona Halep

Romania’s Simona Halep reacts as she plays against Poland’s Iga Swiatek during their women’s singles fourth round tennis match on Day 8 of The Roland Garros 2020 French Open tennis tournament in Paris on October 4, 2020. (Photo by Thomas SAMSON / AFP) (Photo by THOMAS SAMSON/AFP via Getty Images)

AFP via Getty Images

An already upside-down French Open took another tumble early Sunday.

The Nos. 1 and 5 women’s seeds were upset by unseeded players within a half-hour of each other to start the fourth round.

Simona Halep, the top seed and French Open favorite, was stunned by 54th-ranked Iga Swiatek of Poland.

Swiatek, 19, prevailed 6-1, 6-2, earning her first win over a top-15 player and ending Halep’s 17-match win streak dating to February.

Halep played better than the score suggests, committing just 15 unforced errors. But Swiatek had 30 winners to 20 unforced errors.

“She was everywhere,” said Halep, who trounced Swiatek 6-1, 6-0 in their only previous meeting, in the same round at the French Open last year. “It’s not easy to take it, but I’m used to some tough moments in this career. So I will have a chocolate and I will be better tomorrow.”

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Men | Women | TV Schedule

Swiatek is into a Grand Slam quarterfinal for the first time.

“I’m more experienced, I can handle the pressure,” said Swiatek, whose father, Tomasz, rowed at the 1988 Seoul Olympics for Poland. “I [have] grown up to play a match like that and to win it.”

She next gets 159th-ranked Italian Martina Trevisan, who had to win three matches in qualifying just to reach the main draw. Trevisan dumped fifth seed Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands 6-4, 6-4, leaving No. 3 Elina Svitolina of Ukraine the only seed in the top half of the draw.

Halep, the 2018 champion at Roland Garros, was the last woman in the draw who had French Open final experience.

Now, at least one woman will make her Grand Slam final debut next Saturday from a draw turned on its head by upsets in the first week. Only three seeds in the bottom half made the round of 16 -- No. 4 Sofia Kenin, No. 7 Petra Kvitova and No. 30 Ons Jabeur.

Rafael Nadal continued the march of the top male players, sweeping American qualifier Sebastian Korda 6-1, 6-1, 6-2 to reach the quarterfinals. He hasn’t dropped a set or been pushed to a tiebreak in four matches.

The 12-time champion should next get his first test -- to some degree -- against promising Italian 19-year-old Jannik Sinner, who ousted No. 6 seed Alexander Zverev 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 6-3.

“It will be a big challenge,” Nadal said of Sinner, who won the 2019 Next Gen Finals for players 21 and under and beat sixth-ranked Stefanos Tsitsipas on clay last month. “I practice with him a couple of times. He has an amazing potential. He move the hand very quick, and he’s able to produce amazing shots.”

No. 3 seed Dominic Thiem outlasted 239th-ranked Frenchman Hugo Gaston 6-4, 6-4, 5-7, 3-6, 6-3 to make the quarterfinals. Thiem, runner-up to Nadal at the last two French Opens, gets 12th-seeded Argentine Diego Schwartzman on Tuesday. Schwartzman beat Nadal in a clay-court event last month.

MORE: Halep, Comaneci and the genesis of a Romanian friendship

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