French Open quarter-finals: Sinner beats Dimitrov, Swiatek routs Vondrousova – as it happened

Estimated read time 5 min read

Iga Swiatek who swatted away Marketa Vondrousova in an hour and two minutes.

And then of course, we just saw Jannik Sinner beat Grigor Dimitrov, becoming the new world No 1 as Novak Djokovic pulled out of the tournament.

French Open.

French Open title.French Open. The Serbian had an MRI scan earlier and it looks like the result was bad news.

That means Casper Ruud is through to the semi-finals by default.

More on this story as it comes.

French Open quarter.

Since 30-all in his first go, Sinner has only lost three points on serve, but Dimitrov is putting more pop into his groundstrokes now – for all the good it does him, 0-15 soon turning into 40-15. In the process, we learn that Djokovic has gone for an MRI following yesterday’s win over Cerundolo – he hurt his knee slipping and sliding on a court he believed to be substandard – while, back on it now, Dimitrov uses his slice to set up a backhand down the line, nailing it for deuce. Ahahahaha! Sinner promptly clobbers down two aces and that’s the hold; he leads 6-2 3-1.

Down 0-30, the crowd try to transmit their energy to Dimitrov; he responds with a winner and an ace. It won’t be easy for him, being adopted as a cause celebre by people who just want to see a contest that prolongs their day out, but he serves out well to establish himself in set two.

A serve on to the line earns Sinner 30-15, two tame errors from Dimitrov follows, and after forcing his way into the only Slam quarter he’d not made, he’s subsiding so meekly you feel for him at 2-6 0-2. I don’t get it and nor, by the looks of things, does he.

Dimitrov is just letting this match pass him by, and after all the work he’s done to earn it – his last match against Hubie Hurkacz demanded a huge physical effort – he owes it to himself to up his intensity. But at 15-all, Sinner dominates another rally to force the long, desperate backhand; an ace makes 30-all. From there, though, a poor drop offers plenty of time for the administration of treatment, a second serve is glanced back for a winner – Dimitrov barely attempted to reach that – and he’s just so flat here, the opposite of his usual mix of great and awful. Sinner leads 6-2 1-0 with a break, and this is actually quite hard to watch.

Sinner quickly makes 40-0 – he’s so composed out there, partly because he always was but also because he’s now a major winner. Dimitrov does get to 15, but then he dumps a backhand return and looks in serious trouble; this isn’t close, as a 6-2 first set illustrates.

Dimitrov wins his first game in five, forcing Sinner to serve for the set at 5-2. But can he find a way of moving the Italian about, or shortening the points?

Another swift hold for Sinner, Dimitrov far too passive out there. I’m not sure how he planned to attack this match, but at the moment he’s just turned up to play as he would against anyone else. For some reason, that’s not quite working against the world number two and reigning Aussie Open champ, who leads 5-1.

Sinner makes 0-30 then pastes a high return cross-court for a winner which raises three double-break points. Dimitrov does well to save them all, even if he does well to see a pass hit the net when stranded, then has one die on him at it clips the line; this time, he can only wham a forehand deep into the net, and Sinner leads 4-1, the first set near-enough his. The quality differential is not unobvious.

I don’t know, is a cap on backwards acceptable attire for a man aged 33? Who am I to say? Sinner consolidates easily for 3-1 and looks a bit too good for the old campaigner.

Dimitrov doesn’t look totally secure in his footing and dashing in for a putaway at 30-all, he sends the volley well wide; the first break point of the match goes to Sinner, who strays fractionally long on the forehand and cedes deuce. Sinner, though, finds a big return and forehand to earn advantage and, following a long rally, forehand to backhand, he hangs in there longer, Dimitrov netting to trail 1-2 now down a break.

“Will be a nice match to watch,” says coach Calv Betton of this tussle. “As always with Dimitrov, he’ll probably play great and then lose focus for 10 minutes.” Meantime, though, he pays a fantastic point to stick in the rally at the net then flicks a terrific drop across the face of it for 15-all. We wind up at 30-all, but from there, Sinner secures his hold for 1-1.

Sinner opts to return and at 30-0, Dimitrov sends down an ace, finishing off the game with another service-winner.

And play!

Sinner and Dimitrov are out now; I imagine the latter will be looking to work angles, while the former hopes to plant feet and swing. I imagine the Italian wins because he’s the better player, but I can see a way he’s put on his bike by a canny veteran – even if, over five sets, it’s hard to see that approach proving decisive.

The problem with Swiatek is that she is without weakness. Maybe you try and make her volley, but it’s hard to hit drops if you’re constantly moving, trying to stick in rallies. Osaka was able to outhit her from the back, but she’s playing so much better now, so yeah, just attacking everything feels like the best and perhaps only antidote to her dominance on a clay court.


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