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French Open provides birthday boost for Swiatek as Gauff advances to last 16

However the Pole found herself on the brink of a shock second round exit against fellow four-time Grand Slam champion Osaka before rallying to take the final five games and keep her bid for a third successive French Open crown intact.

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French Open provides birthday boost for Swiatek as Gauff advances to last 16

On her 23rd birthday, the reigning champion Iga Swiatek is looking for a smoother path ahead at the French Open after a close call against Naomi Osaka.

Meanwhile, Coco Gauff sailed into the second week, continuing her impressive streak for the fourth consecutive year.

In the men’s draw, Carlos Alcaraz and Jannik Sinner are both aiming for a spot in the last 16, setting the stage for a potential semi-final showdown.

Third seed Gauff showcased her resilience by overcoming a late challenge from Dayana Yastremska in a 6-2, 6-4 victory on Court Philippe Chatrier. Gauff, who has been a standout performer at Roland Garros with two quarter-final appearances and a runner-up finish in 2022, will face Elisabetta Cocciaretto in the quest for a spot in the quarter-finals.

With a remarkable 30-2 record at the tournament and three-time title winner, world number one Swiatek continues to dominate the women’s field at the French Open.

Her journey to success started with a breakthrough Grand Slam victory at the Covid-delayed 2020 tournament, solidifying her position as a formidable force in the tennis world.

However the Pole found herself on the brink of a shock second round exit against fellow four-time Grand Slam champion Osaka before rallying to take the final five games and keep her bid for a third successive French Open crown intact.

“I just kept going forward and I hope that my game is going to get better because of that,” said Swiatek, whose third-round exit at this year’s Australian Open came after a tough three-set duel the previous round.

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“I’m not comparing it because I don’t want to find any patterns that are not really necessary,” said Swiatek, reluctant to dwell on the past.

“But I think my game can get better here. In Australia it’s harder for me to improve during the tournament because of the surface, actually. So I’m not expecting anything.

“From now on I’m just going to try to focus on my tennis and whatever. Even if I’m gonna lose — I mean, I almost lost (to Osaka), so I’m happy that I’m here anyway.”

Swiatek, looking to become just the second woman after Serena Williams to complete the clay-court treble of Madrid, Rome and French Opens in the same season, will be heavily favoured against 42nd-ranked Czech player Marie Bouzkova.

“With Iga it’s kind of almost like playing a boy on the other side of the court. She plays very heavy balls and moves super well,” said Bouzkova.

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