It’s Iga and the Pack in Paris — Roland Garros Quarterfinalists’ Quotes — Must-click women’s tennis links

The IX: Tennis Tuesday with Joey Dillon, May 31, 2022

Happy Tennis Tuesday, y’all! After an excruciating month, we finally made it to the end! Fingers crossed that June is full of light brighter than the summer sun. With that said, we’re at the Elite Eight of Roland Garros in Paris!

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Finally armed with a full, boisterous crowd, our quarterfinals matchups are:

The first week had a string of upsets, especially in the second round, leaving three Top 10 seeds in the third round. By the time the Round of 16 hit, only one remained — Iga Swiatek.

Honestly, it’s hard to bet against the World No. 1, who is now riding a 32-match winning streak — which is among the most consecutive wins since 2000. Should Swiatek take home a second Roland Garros crown, she will tie Venus Williams atop that leaderboard. As she hit Win No. 30, WTA Insider broke down the Pole’s streak and why it’s utterly ruthless. There’s winning and then there’s winning. A quarterfinal against Jessica Pegula, who is perhaps the second-most consistent player behind the World No. 1, awaits. Fortunately for the American, Swiatek’s last two matches have been shaky — especially her fourth-rounder with Zheng Qinwen, which went three sets. Still, after dropping the first set, she only lost two more games and the adversity early in the tournament only bodes well for her moving forward. So far, only herself has been her biggest opponent:

While Swiatek is bulldozing through the tour, she’s actually not the most dominant player in Paris. Enter Daria Kasatkina, In her four matches, the Russian has only dropped 14 games en route to her second Roland Garros quarterfinal. Kasatkina is winless at this stage of a Grand Slam, but she will have seasoned experience against compatriot Veronika Kudermetova. Kudermetova benefitted from No. 3 seed Paula Badosa retiring in their third-round encounter, but after losing the first set 6-1 in the fourth round against Madison Keys, she only dropped four games to make her maiden Grand Slam quarterfinal. The Russian had never reached the second round of a Grand Slam, previously going 0-3 at the third round stage. She has the power to blow Kasatkina off the court, but Kasatkina’s clay prowess will likely be enough to win the all-Russian affair.

In 2020, Martina Trevisan stunned the world as she qualified and made the quarterfinals in Paris. She struggled to capitalize on that success, but last week, she won her first WTA title in Rabat. Now, another four wins later, she’s in her second Roland Garros quarterfinal. The Italian may not have had the hardest draw en route, but she hasn’t lost a set, while her opponent, Leylah Fernandez, has had to grind out back-to-back three setters. Fernandez first had to escape Belinda Bencic 7-5 in the third before winning another topsy-turvy affair against Amanda Anisimova. The Canadian is into her second quarterfinal at a major, with her first obviously being last year’s US Open where she made the final. Fernandez likens her tournament to that run in New York, so don’t be too shocked to see the 2019 French Open Girl’s champion in the final weekend.

Coco Gauff, the 2018 junior champion, finds herself in her second Grand Slam quarterfinal, after last year’s Roland Garros. She has yet to drop a set and her fourth round win over Elise Mertens really showed that she’s looking to do even better than last year’s run. Though only 18, Gauff is really giving off the aura of a veteran who’s been playing for 18 years. Everyone knows she’s been on the cusp of breaking through the upper echelon of the game. Is the time now? On the other end of the net is Sloane Stephens, who was up a set and a break in the 2018 women’s final before losing to Simona Halep. Of all of the players left, no other player has the Grand Slam resume Stephens has. Yes, Swiatek has one Grand Slam as well, but the American is in her seventh quarterfinal at a major. What is perhaps even more impressive is that this is her third at Roland Garros. Stephens has said for pretty much her entire career that Roland Garros is her favorite tournament and it’s showing. She’s had to battle en route, needing three sets against qualifier Jule Niemeier and No. 26 seed Sorana Cirstea. Since then, she’s gotten better and better and she dismantled Jil Teichmann in the fourth round with her second virtual double bagel of the tournament. Stephens was down 3-6, 0-2 against Cirstea and 0-2 against Teichmann. In fact, Stephens only lost three points in the second set of her fourth rounder. When things click, it’s a scary Sloane Stephens on clay.

Though these aren’t the quarterfinalists you were probably expecting, I definitely expected a Swiatek vs. Pegula matchup. I wasn’t sure if it was my gut or heart that had Stephens in the quarters, but the draw opened up with Barbora Krejcikova’s first-round exit. I also had Gauff going deep as she’s had a pretty consistent clay court campaign and feels at home in Paris. With that said, the beauty of the WTA’s unpredictability continues and we stan.

Now, for good measure, let’s jinx some players with my predictions:

(1) Iga Swiatek def. (11) Jessica Pegula
(20) Daria Kasatkina def. (29) Veronika Kudermetova
(17) Leylah Fernandez def. Martina Trevisan
Sloane Stephens def. (18) Coco Gauff

(1) Iga Swiatek def. (20) Daria Kasatkina
Sloane Stephens def. (17) Leylah Fernandez

(1) Iga Swiatek def. Sloane Stephens

Again, my heart and gut could be flip-flopping but I definitely see the winner of Stephens/Gauff going all the way to the finals. However, do not use these as expert picks if you’re a betting person. I haven’t done the math since I started doing these predictions, but — just don’t.

Now, onto links!

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This Week in Women’s Tennis

This week’s must-read comes from our friend Stephanie Livaudais, who went back in time when the WTA led the way with the start of virtual press conferences. I admit, I miss being able to grab quotes at tournaments I wouldn’t have had access to, but this piece made me see that it’s a bit selfish when the athletes themselves give their point of view of the process.

The NCAA individual champions were crowned with University of Texas sophomore Peyton Stearns defeating Stanford’s Connie Ma, 6-3, 6-3 to win the singles title, adding to her 2021 and 2022 team titles. The doubles title went to NC State’s Jaeda Daniel and Nell Miller, who defeated Daevenia Achong and Eden Richardson of Miami, 6-2, 7-5. It was a first championship in both divisions for the respective programs. As a result, Stearns, as an American winner, secured a main draw wild card into the US Open, while it’s presumed Daniel will partner with an American come time in New York.

Friend of The IX Brittany Collens penned a first-person account of what life on the road week-to-week in the sport’s lowest-level is actually like.

Entering the doubles quarterfinals, Taylor Townsend, who recently coached Cardi B and Normani to tennis glory, shared her new outlook on tennis as she comes back from maternity leave.

The grass season last year was when the world first took notice of Emma Raducanu. Now, the US Open champion has a large target on her back and the question bodes — can she be a mainstay at the top?

Wimbledon shared that they will no longer be including the titles “Mrs.” or “Miss” in their champion’s board of champions. Though the traditionalist in me is bummed, it’s time to adhere to present-day, especially when the umpires have stopped using those terms.

Good news if you’re in the Washington DC area! The WTA is returning to the nation’s capital, with the Citi Open announcing they’ve secured a sanction to hold a WTA 250 again. The tournament was originally held from 2011-2019 and will be a combined event with the ATP’s 500-level event.

Unfortunately after her first round exit, reigning Roland Garros singles and doubles champion Barbora Krejcikova tested positive for COVID-19 and had to withdraw from the doubles event. With her injury layoff and not looking particularly ready in singles, I wouldn’t be surprised if she skips out on the grass season.

Last week’s ITF World Tour results:

  • $60,000 Grado, Italy:
    • (4) Elisabetta Cocciaretto def. (1) Ylena In-Albon, 6-2, 6-2
    • Alena Fomina-Klotz/Dalila Jakupovic def. (2) Eudice Chong/En Shuo Liang, 6-1, 6-4
  • $60,000 Orlando, Florida:
    • (1) Robin Anderson def. (6) Sachia Vickery, 7-5, 6-4
    • (1) Sophie Chang/Angela Kulikov def. Hanna Chang/Elizabeth Mandilk, 6-3, 2-6, [10-6]
  • $25,000 Tbilisi, Georgia:
    • Anna Brogan def. Kristina Dmitruk, 6-3, 6-3
    • (3) Nefisa Berberovic/Jia-Jing Lu def. Arlinda Rushiti/Tess Sugnaux, 6-2, 4-6, [10-7]
  • $25,000 Netanya, Israel:
    • (2/SR) Priscilla Hon def. (SR) Yanina Wickmayer, 6-1, 6-3
    • Haruna Arakawa/Natsuho Arakawa def. Emilie Lindh/Nicole Nadel, 6-2, 6-4
  • $15,000 Heraklion, Greece:
    • (JR) Lola Radivojevic def. (WC) Dimitra Pavlou, 6-3, 6-1
    • (2) Noelia Bouzo Zanotti/Ani Vangelova def. (WC) Elena Korokozidi/Ellie Logotheti, 3-6, 6-4, [10-4]
  • $15,000 Antalya, Turkey:
    • (7) Tatiana Barkova def. (3) Federica Bilardo, 7-6(4), 7-5
    • (2) Viktoriya Petrenko/Doga Turkmen def. (3) Amarissa Kiara Toth/Ilay Yoruk, 7-5, 6-7(3), [14-12]
  • $15,000 Oran, Algeria:
    • (2) Lexie Stevens def. (3) Ines Ibbou, 7-6(4), retired
    • Amira Benaissa/Ines Ibbou def. (1) Luisa Meyer auf der Heide/Lexie Stevens, walkover
  • $15,000 Santa Margarita de Montbui, Spain:
    • Nahia Berecoechea def. (4) Olfa Parres Azcoitia, 7-6(5), 6-3
    • (4) Jiho Shin/Celine Simunyu def. (3) Francesca Curmi/Mihaela Djakovic, 7-6(3), 6-3
  • $15,000 Cancun, Mexico:
    • (4) Stacey Fung def. (8) Saki Imanmura, 6-4, 7-5
    • (WC) Sophia Graver/Malkia Ngounoue def. (1) Stacey Fung/Dasha Ivanova, 6-2, 6-4
  • $15,000 Monastir, Tunisia:
    • (3) Ayumi Morita def. Milana Zhabrailova, 7-5, 6-0
    • (2) Sijia Wi/Xinxin Yao def. (3) Valeria Koussenkova/Milana Zhabraliova, 6-3, 6-3
  • $15,000 Annenheim, Austria:
    • (8) Silvia Ambrosio def. Valeriia Olianovskaia, 6-1, 6-4
    • (1) Miharu Imanishi/Kanako Morisaki def. (2) Sebastianna Scillpoti/Ingrid Vojcinakova, 6-2, 6-4
  • $15,000 Krsko, Slovenia:
    • (3) Aneta Kucmova def. (WC) Kristina Novak, 7-5, 6-1
    • (2) Aneta Kucmova/Manca Pislak def. (3) Victoria Borodulina/Sashi Kempster, 6-1, 6-2

Last week’s Universal Tennis Pro Tennis Tour results:

  • $25,000 Austin, Texas:
    • 1st place playoff: Luciana Perry def. Ellie Pitman, 6-2, 6-3
    • 2nd place playoff: Sankavi Gownder def. Susana Alcaraz-Sticker, 7-6(3), 6-0
    • 3rd place playoff: Jennifer Jackson def. Bayley Sheinin, 6-3, 6-4
    • 4th place playoff: Chloe Henderson def. Kenna Erickson, walkover
    • 5th place playoff: Lily Walther def. Stanislava Shulzhenko, 6-3, 6-4
  • $25,000 Nis, Serbia:
    • 1st place playoff: Mia Ristic def. Laura Svatikova, 6-2, 6-4
    • 2nd place playoff: Katerina Dimitrova def. Tamara Malesevic, 6-3, retired
    • 3rd place playoff: Sara Mikaca def. Nevena Kolarevic, 6-4, 6-4
    • 4th place playoff: Anja Stankovic def. Andela Petrovic, 6-7(6), 6-3, 7-5
    • 5th place playoff: Nevena Sokovic def. Sara Gvozdenovic, 6-3, 6-2

This — is just *chef’s kiss*

Tweet of the Week

Andrea Petkovic always comes through with the jokes

Five at The IX: Week 1 Quotes from Roland Garros Quarterfinalists

Q. You have obviously had quite a few runs in slams recently to about the third round, fourth round, but maybe going deep hasn’t happened for a little while. I’m just wondering, does something feel different for you this time? Do you feel more confident you can go really deep here?

SLOANE STEPHENS: Well, considering that I did not win a single match before coming into the French Open, I would say that I’m doing the absolute best that I can (smiling) and that I am pleased to be in the fourth round for the eighth time.

I don’t think you ever know when it’s gonna happen or when it’s gonna click. But I’m just trying to make the most of it, honestly. Happy to put the wins together now. Didn’t at any other tournament, so God bless, but happy that it’s happening here.

Q. I’m wondering, as someone in your position, I could see how it might be natural to either think, oh, this is a real opportunity for me. It might also be natural to think, uh-oh, look at what’s happening to these players. I’ve got to make sure it doesn’t happen to me. Do either or both of those go through your mind or what’s your thought process?

JESSICA PEGULA: Yeah, I definitely think I look more as, okay, this is a good opportunity for me to sneak through this section of the draw. Of course you still have to win matches and stuff. But to me, I think I like more playing that game in my head where it’s like, oh, this is a great little opportunity. Like, this person loses, I like playing this person. You see it kind of breakdown and then you try to work your way through.

I think that’s really important, at least for me. I like looking at it but I don’t think I stress myself out about it. I think it’s more fun. It’s more, it’s how kind of I set goals, I guess you would say. I look at it like that. I look at it as like kind of like chess. Like, you’re kind of just trying to work your way through and see what happens.

But yeah, I mean, some people don’t want to look at it that way. I guess it depends on personal preference.

But as far as seeds dropping out, I mean, I think to me it’s not surprising, especially in the women’s game. There’s so many good players right now that I take every match as being extremely tough.

I thought even my section was extremely tough for — maybe I wasn’t playing with Zidansek coming up. I mean, I know she made semis last year. So I know it’s going to be really tough. I knew if I got through, I knew Anhelina today was going to be very tough. She’s had a great clay court season and is really starting to kind of solidify herself as a really good player.

So I definitely saw that my section wasn’t easy. I think there was a lot of, I think there still is, players under the radar. But I also see that if I can break through, like, okay, if Pliskova is the seed in my section and she lost, that’s a great opportunity for me as well as a seeded player.

But it’s easier said than done, one match at a time. One point at a time. One match point at time.

Q. We mentioned earlier this week that you have just graduated from high school. Here at Roland Garros we have just reached midterm. So what is your midterm report and how you are playing so far? Could you grade yourself? Will you be doing any homework before the next round? Finally, what will it take for you to go to top of the class?

COCO GAUFF: I like that question (smiling). I appreciate the effort into that. (Laughter.) I thought it was pretty clever.

But, no, I guess grading myself, I mean, As all around, to be honest. You’re never going to play your best tennis in a slam every moment of the match, but I think I’m getting better and better, and I think mentally I can’t ask for much more from myself in each match.

I mean, you know, today in the first set I had a lot of points that I probably should have closed out, and made some errors on balls that I probably shouldn’t have. I just stayed in it. I didn’t not trust myself because I started to make those shots in the second set.

To make it to the top of the class, I think just keep doing what I’m doing and not freaking out in those moments. I think that was the biggest lesson I learned last year in my quarterfinal match, I had a couple set points and I think I freaked out when some of those points didn’t go my way.

Today I didn’t freak out when a couple of those important points didn’t go my way.

Q. A great match today. In 2020, that was a magical performance for you to break through and reach the quarterfinals for the first time. Did you think you would be able to do this regularly, do it again at that time?

MARTINA TREVISAN: Last year it wasn’t very difficult for me. It was a very — it was very difficult here for me. But I collected a lot of experience, and positive and negative experience, and at the beginning of this year is that I was dreaming this moment, because in myself, in my head, I see again this moment. I thought to myself, yes, Martina, you can do again. I will like to live again this emotion. I mean, I’m here, so I’m really happy.

Q. Everyone keeps reminding you that it is a long time since you lost. I’d like to know, do you think you play your best tennis when you feel like you have everything to lose or when you feel you have nothing to lose?

IGA SWIATEK: For sure nothing to lose. It’s been always like that. I feel like every person basically is playing better when they feel like they have nothing to lose.

I mean, from my point of view, I don’t really mind the streak. I’m just playing my tennis. I gain so much points this season already that I try to look at it from that perspective that I actually have nothing to lose here.

Mondays: Soccer
By: Annie Peterson, @AnnieMPeterson, AP Women’s Soccer
Tuesdays: Tennis
By: Joey Dillon, @JoeyDillon, Freelance Tennis Writer
Wednesdays: Basketball
By: Howard Megdal, @HowardMegdal, The Next
Thursdays: Golf
By: Addie Parker, @addie_parker, The IX
Fridays: Hockey
By: @TheIceGarden, The Ice Garden
Saturdays: Gymnastics
By: Lela Moore, @runlelarun, Freelance Writer

Written by Joey Dillon