Swiatek v Riske: Things we learned

 - Dan Imhoff

World No.1 racks up 30th straight win for a third-round berth

Iga Swiatek, 2e tour, Roland-Garros 2022©Philippe Montigny / FFT

World No.1 Iga Swiatek is in a hurry of late as she ratchets up her campaign to reclaim Roland-Garros.

On Thursday, Alison Riske became her latest hapless victim for Swiatek’s 30th straight win of the season.

The 6-0, 6-2 scoreline delivered the Pole her 15th bagel set of the season.

Here’s what we learned from Swiatek’s dominant second-round victory.

Visit fit for a queen

Calm, majestic and simply stunning are not typical superlatives the Pole would dare use to talk up her own performance.

They were entirely apt to sum up her 61-minute expedition to Court Suzanne-Lenglen on Thursday.

These were the words from her social media two days earlier, used to describe her trip to the tranquil surrounds of the Chateau de Versailles, just a stone’s throw from her current workplace at Porte d’Auteuil.

Green space was clearly working wonders for her headspace; nature’s restorative properties providing the ideal reset between each mounting on-court achievement.

“Oh my god, that was the most beautiful thing I’ve seen in my life, honestly,” Swiatek said. “I was in many places, but it was just beautiful and everything was so symmetrical.

“I loved it there because I really love maths and I always love when things are symmetrical. When something’s off I’m like, ‘wow’.”

Bagels all round

Seeing as symmetry sits so well with the 20-year-old, she will no doubt find the scoreline particularly satisfying, a mirror of her 6-2, 6-0 trouncing of Lesia Tsurenko in the opening round.

After tearing through the opening set in just 22 minutes without the loss of a game, Swiatek took her tally of 6-0 sets for the season to 15.

With the season less than half complete, her tally was already the eighth most 6-0 sets in a single season since 2000 and just 10 shy of Serena Williams’ record from 2013.

Iga Swiatek, Roland Garros 2022, second round© Philippe Montigny/FFT

Swiatek’s numbers obsession only grows

The self-confessed mathematics fanatic became only the fourth player this century to win 30 consecutive matches following victory over the world No.43.

She dropped just seven points in the opening set, hitting 11 winners and a mere four unforced errors.

The title favourite was gathering steam in similar vein to her breakout run in 2020 when she conceded a meagre total of 28 games en route to her first major.

She stormed through the first nine games in 35 minutes before Riske could even stem the flow.

From there, Riske managed to salvage two service holds before being broken on match point number two.

Swiatek finished the match with 23 winners, 17 more than her opponent, while her 15 unforced errors were one more than Riske surrendered.

The Pole won 22 of 26 points on her first serve and broke five times from nine opportunities.

Pole a clay-court hurdle too high

Riske had found the overwhelming bulk of her success on the slick grass courts after Paris each season where her heavy, flat strikes had maximum impact.

Three years ago, she claimed her biggest name when she brought down reigning Roland-Garros champion and top seed Ashleigh Barty in the fourth round at Wimbledon for her sole Grand Slam quarter-final berth, her best major showing.

As impressive an upset as she caused that day at the All England Club, Swiatek was always going to be a daunting prospect in Paris on her least successful surface.

Of Riske’s 174 career matches won, only 18 had been on clay and this was just her second trip to the round of 64 here.

Iga has the eye of the tiger

When Fabrice Santoro compared the world No.1’s aura to that of a champion fighter about to enter the ring, Swiatek conceded it was a trait she had had to work on.

“Oh it’s not natural at all. It’s something I’ve been working on since I started,” she said. “I think being focused and wanting to put pressure on my opponent, I have initiative and I can really lead on court. It gives me a lot.

“It’s not that easy. You have to get pumped up and in the zone. I’m getting better and better at it but I’m still no expert.”

Swiatek was in such cruise control after her lights-out opening set and after the first game of the second set that she charged to the changeover intent on sitting down, until realising she had jumped the gun.

Her focus was unwavering and a formidable weapon ahead of her third-round meeting with Montenegrin Danka Kovinic.

Still there was room to improve.

“I would work on everything [on my day off] because I’m a perfectionist and there’s always something I could do better,” she said.