Day 7: Three things to look out for

 - Danielle Rossingh

Singles third-round action resumes with defending champion Iga Swiatek and the 'Big Three' searching for second-week spots.

Iga Swiatek, Roland Garros 2021, second round© Nicolas Gouhier/FFT

The third round comes to a close at Roland-Garros on Saturday, and the schedule is loaded with the sport’s biggest stars.

Here are some standout clashes to keep an eye on.

Graf-like Swiatek back for more

Defending champion Iga Swiatek has rolled into the third round with scorelines reminiscent of the days of Steffi Graf.

The 22-time Grand Slam singles winner made a habit of steamrolling her opponents in the early rounds, with fellow competitors taking bets on who could last more than an hour against the German.


The ninth-seeded Swiatek, who became Poland’s first Grand Slam singles champion after a stunning run to the title last year without dropping a set, has lost just seven games in her first two rounds this year in Paris.

Although pressure doesn’t seem to be an issue for Swiatek, who turned 20 earlier this week, she will face a stern test in her third round against the experienced Anett Kontaveit. The 31st-ranked Estonian has beaten Swiatek twice in as many meetings, with wins on US hard court and in the fourth round of the Australian Open last year. 

Swiatek is ready for the challenge and not getting ahead of herself.

“She's super experienced,” Swiatek said about Kontaveit. “I already lost against her two times. So it's going to be a tough match.

I'm just looking on that. We're going to see what's gonna happen later in the tournament, but I'm just looking at my next match.”

Nadal v last Brit standing

Defending champion Rafael Nadal takes on Cameron Norrie, the last Briton in both singles draws, for a spot in the fourth round.

The 13-time champion has a lot of respect for the 45th-ranked Norrie. The pair have played twice this year, with Nadal winning both.

“Well, he's a great player,” Spain’s Nadal said after beating France’s Richard Gasquet in his previous round. “He's winning plenty of matches this year, no? Every week he's making good results, winning against very good players. I know it’s going to be a tough one.”

Norrie, 25, had an excellent preparation on the clay. The week before Roland-Garros, he was a runner-up to Stefanos Tsitsipas in Lyon after victories over US Open champion Dominic Thiem and Russia’s Karen Khachanov.

“Another great opportunity to have a crack at him,” said Norrie after his previous round. “Obviously I'm going to be the underdog going in there, so no pressure on me, go out and see if I can execute my game and frustrate him. Another wonderful experience for me playing him, again, third round of a Slam, especially where he's been very dominant.”

Cameron Norrie Roland Garros second round© Clément Mahoudeau/FFT

American women take centre stage

What a week it has been for American women.

Having started the women’s singles draw with 19 players, more than any other country, eight American women reached the third round. That was the most since nine did in 2003.

With Williams against Danielle Collins on Friday, followed by two more all-American contests, between former Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin against Jessica Pegula and Coco Gauff against Jennifer Brady on Saturday, the US is guaranteed to have at least three female competitors in the second week of Roland-Garros.

Also on Saturday, Sloane Stephens, a former finalist in Paris, faces the 18th-seeded Czech Karolina Muchova. Stephens has been improving with each round on the Parisian clay, following a tough start to the year when she battled a Covid infection.

After coming within two points of defeat to Carla Suárez Navarro of Spain in the opening round, the American beat the big-serving Czech Karolina Pliskova 7-5, 6-1 to move to round three. It was her first Top 10 win since 2018.

“Life has happened and it has been very much so out of my control and I kind of just had to manage,” Stephens said earlier in the week. “And I feel like I have just done the best I can, and for that I can be proud.”

Sloane Stephens, Roland Garros 2021, second round© Julien Crosnier/FFT