Anisimova, Swiatek future tennis queens, only 17
Paris (AFP) –
Seventeen-year-olds Amanda Anisimova and Iga Swiatek both romped into the third round of the French Open on Thursday with comprehensive victories over seeded players to firmly mark themselves out as future stars.
The United States' Anisimova followed up her shock Australian Open third-round victory over Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka by dismantling the 11th seed again, 6-4, 6-2.
Polish hope Swiatek, who turns 18 on Friday, thrashed Chinese 16th seed Wang Qiang 6-3, 6-0 in under an hour to reach the last 32 of a Grand Slam tournament for the first time.
World number 51 Anisimova has seen her section of the draw open up to the extent that she cannot even face a higher-ranked player than her until at least the quarter-finals.
"I'd never passed a round at the French Open, so obviously it's super special. It feels great," she said.
Anisimova is the youngest American woman to get this far at Roland Garros since 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams in 1999, and she revealed the three-time French Open winner helped her after a difficult recent defeat.
"I mean, she's done so much for the sport. She's a huge inspiration to me. I really look up to her. That's just great to be achieving stuff similar to her," she added.
"Actually when I had a tough loss at Miami Open, it was a really long match and I was super upset in the locker room, Serena actually came up to me and we shared a little bit of a chat.
"That was really nice of her, and I'll remember it forever."
Only two teenage men reached the second round in Paris this week, but six women made it that far, with three going another step further after 19-year-old Marketa Vondrousova's victory over Anastasia Potapova, 18, on Wednesday.
"There are a lot of great players close to my age that are doing really well," said Anisimova, who will play either Romania's Irina Camelia Begu or Czech Karolina Muchova in round three.
"I think it's just the NextGen on the rise. They are doing really well, so it's good to see."
Swiatek, who also reached the second round in Melbourne in January, was simply far too good for Wang.
"I don't think I have a chance with her," admitted world number 16 Wang. "She played really aggressive, Yeah, if she plays like that, she can be top 10."
The continued strong form of older players like 37-year-old Williams has made it more difficult for youngsters to break through in recent years, but 21-year-old world number one Naomi Osaka has won back-to-back Grand Slam titles and now teenagers are starting to prove themselves on the biggest stages.
Canadian star Bianca Andreescu, 18, even lifted the prestigious Indian Wells title this year, although was forced to withdraw in Paris with a shoulder injury before the second round.
Swiatek says the lack of expectation makes it easier to transition to the top level.
"I don't know if it's about game. Maybe more about the confidence or the peace of mind sometimes and being able to focus," she said.
"And just I think going from juniors to senior, I guess I wasn't that stressed. I just felt that I knew here I don't have to win anything, so that's why I could play my best."
Swiatek also has a kind section of the draw on paper, and will play either Russian 21st seed Daria Kasatkina or Olympic champion Monica Puig for a place in the second week.
? 2019 AFP