French Open Day 8: Iga Swiatek’s double bagel, Corentin Moutet’s underarm serve


Welcome back to the French Open briefing, where The Athletic will explain the stories behind the stories on each day of the tournament.

On Day 8 of Roland Garros 2024, Iga Swiatek’s bakery opened on a Sunday, the most famous underarm serve in Paris left the stage and a mixed-doubles partnership discussed “playing for love.”

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After second-round drama, is Swiatek locked in?

Even for Swiatek, tennis’ baker-in-chief, this was still an astonishingly brutal double-bagel win.

Swiatek’s 6-0, 6-0 win over Anastasia Potapova took just 40 minutes, making it the quickest match of the world No. 1’s career, amid some stiff competition for a player who specialises in “bagel” (6-0) and “breadstick” (6-1) sets.

The stat that perhaps best illustrates Swiatek’s utter dominance is the fact she dropped just 10 points all match. She didn’t face a single break point in what was the second shortest completed match at Roland Garros, after Steffi Graf’s 32-minute win over Natasha Zvereva in the 1988 final.

Her potential semi-final opponent Coco Gauff gave a good insight into Siwatek’s reputation for this sort of thing in her post-match press conference on Sunday. Gauff followed Swiatek and Potapova onto court for her match against Elisabetta Cocciaretto, and she was asked whether the speed of that match had caught her off guard and affected her preparations.

Gauff laughed and said: “Yeah, I mean, I figured … Usually if you’re after her, you know it’s probably going to be a quick match.”

After that hugely dramatic win over Naomi Osaka in the second round, some wondered whether Swiatek would suffer a let-down in her next couple of matches. In dropping a combined six games in those subsequent two matches, she has comprehensively quashed any doubts.


Playing for love?

Carlos Alcaraz and Stefanos Tsitsipas will play in the quarter-finals on Tuesday, at a French Open that is shaping up to be a very busy one for Tsitispas.
He’s playing doubles with his brother, Petros, and mixed doubles with his on-again girlfriend, Spaniard Paula Badosa.

The tennis it couple of the past year broke up earlier this spring but are back on now, on the court and off.


Badosa and Tsitsipas will take to the clay as a pair. (Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Alcaraz is hoping to play doubles with Rafael Nadal at the Olympics this summer, but mixed doubles has not yet entered his equation. Tsitispas has said he is playing “for love” in the event, and before their encounter, Alcaraz was asked if he would ever do that.

Well, he answered during the Spanish portion of his news conference, “I don’t currently have a girlfriend. If I did have one…”

Here he paused for a very pensive, pregnant moment.

“I would have a lot of things to evaluate.”


The underarm serves its purpose, but no more

Oh Corentin Moutet was the chant for 8 days of Roland Garros, but it also applied to his match against Jannik Sinner, world No 2.

In a breathtaking start, Moutet did what he had to do to have any chance of winning — completely disrupt Sinner’s rhythm. He went 5-0 up in a barrage of drop shots, topspin forehands, and canny use of court geometry, while also benefiting from Sinner appearing shaken by both the Frenchman’s tennis and the crowd. Just the one underarm serve. Then another one, for an ace. He lost the point on the third.

go-deeper

GO DEEPER

How Corentin Moutet’s 12 underarm serves shook Roland Garros

Then, at 6-2, as was inevitable, Sinner started to raise his level. His serve got much better. He was picking the dropshots that had left him statuesque. But something more curious happened: Moutet started playing what can only be described as normal tennis. He rallied from the baseline. He served overhead. He hit just a few dropshots, relying more on a conventional backhand slice.

Having started a fight on his terms, he then decided to pick one he was never going to win, allowing Sinner to settle into rhythm, never really feeling disrupted. And as Sinner equalised, then moved ahead, Moutet — despite the occasional galvanising roar or flashing winner — spiralled out of control, culminating in a (correctly called) foot fault on his favorite shot.


Another Dane stakes their claim

Clara Tauson may have lost to Ons Jabeur in straight sets, but reaching the round-of-16 at a Grand Slam for the first time — one better than her showing at last year’s French Open — is a huge step for a prodigious junior talent afflicted by injuries in her development years.

Alongside a resurgent Holger Rune and the returning Grand Slam champion Caroline Wozniacki, she made up the first ever trio of Danes at a Grand Slam in 2023, at the US Open. Based on this evidence, this will be happening more and more often — if Wozniacki can bolster her ranking as she builds her comeback. Tauson was fearless against the 2017 French Open winner and always-dangerous Jelena Ostapenko, and managed complicated conditions in a hugely nervy denouement to her match against former finalist Sofia Kenin. Grass isn’t really her surface, but a consistent run at just competing in high-level tournaments will do her the world of good.

GettyImages 2154240946 scaled


Tauson made an impression in Paris. (Anne-Christine Poujoulat / AFP via Getty Images)

Shot of the day


Today’s results:

  • Iga Swiatek (1) def. Anastasia Potapova, 6-0, 6-0
  • Marketa Vondrousova (5) def. Olga Danilovic (Q), 6-4, 6-2
  • Coco Gauff (3) def. Elisabetta Cocciaretto, 6-1, 6-2
  • Ons Jabeur (8) def. Clara Tauson, 6-4, 6-4

  • Stefanos Tsitsipas (9) def. Matteo Arnaldi, 3-6, 7-6(4), 6-2, 6-2
  • Carlos Alcaraz (3) def. Felix Auger-Aliassime (21), 6-3, 6-3, 6-1
  • Grigor Dimitrov (10) def. Hubert Hurkacz (8), 7-6(5), 6-4, 7-6(3)
  • Jannik Sinner (2) def. Corentin Moutet, 2-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-1

Monday’s order of play:

  • Elina Svitolina (15) vs. Elena Rybakina (4), first on Court Philippe-Chatrier
  • Elina Avanesyan vs. Jasmine Paolini (12), first on Court Suzanne-Lenglen
  • Emma Navarro (22) vs. Aryna Sabalenka (2), second on Court Philippe-Chatrier
  • Alex de Minaur (11) vs. Daniil Medvedev (5), second on Court Suzanne-Lenglen
  • Novak Djokovic (1) vs. Francisco Cerundolo (23), third on Court Philippe-Chatrier
  • Varvara Gracheva vs. Mirra Andreeva, third on Court Suzanne-Lenglen
  • Alexander Zverev (4) vs. Holger Rune (13), night session on Court Philippe Chatrier
  • Taylor Fritz (12) vs. Casper Ruud (7), fourth on Court Suzanne-Lenglen

Tell us what you noticed on the eighth day as things continue …

(Top photo of Iga Swiatek: Dimitar Dilkoff / AFP via Getty Images)





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