In the men's draw, the first matches allowed Holger Rune (6th) to brilliantly confirm his status as an outsider against the big favorites Carlos Alcaraz (N.1 in the world) and Novak Djokovic (3rd), whom he could only face in the final.
But the day started with a thunderclap even before the first racket strokes on Court Philippe-Chatrier. And for good reason! The one who was supposed to perform there, Rybakina, withdrew just before the start of her match against Spain's Sara Sorribes (132nd).
"I didn't sleep well the last two nights, I had fever and headache," she said. I have trouble running and even breathing, so it was the only decision I could make."
"I saw the doctors and they told me there was a virus right now in Paris. With my allergies, my immune system didn't react well," she said.
An unexpected winner at Wimbledon last year, Rybakina has since established herself as one of the top three players today, along with Swiatek and Belarus' Aryna Sabalenka (2nd) beating her in the Australian Open final in January.
6-0, 6-0 Swiatek
Sabalenka qualified for the knockout stages on Friday and can only face Swiatek in the final.
Poland's Iga Swiatek after her victory against China's Wang Xinyu on June 3, 2023 at Roland Garros in Paris © Thomas SAMSON / AFP
The Pole, 22 years old since Wednesday, showed no mercy in the afternoon with the Chinese Xinyu Wang (80th), ejected 6-0, 6-0 in 51 minutes.
In each of his first two rounds, Swiatek had inflicted a 6-0 on his opponents (Bucsa and Liu). Wang, who scored only seventeen points in total, scored two.
In the eighth-finals, the world N.1 will face Canada's Bianca Andreescu (42nd) or Ukraine's Lesia Tsurenko (66th). It must imperatively reach the quarter-finals to hope to remain on the throne at the end of Roland-Garros.
Rybakina's forfeit allowed Rune to return to court a little earlier than expected, he who had been deprived of the second round by the forfeit of Frenchman Gaël Monfils (left wrist).
"I played a practice match the day before yesterday (Thursday, the day he should have faced Monfils) because it's important to stay in the rhythm of the tournament. I won it. But it's not the same as competition," said the young Dane.
Impatient to find himself in the arena, he took only two short hours to dismiss very logically the Argentine Genaro Alberto Olivieri (231st and from qualifying) 6-4, 6-1, 6-3.
At 20, he will face the American Taylor Fritz (8th) or another Argentine, Francisco Cerundolo (23rd), to try to reach the quarters as last year for his first participation.
Nadal convalescent five months
Germany's Alexander Zverev serves against Slovakia's Alex Molcan on June 1, 2023 at Roland Garros in Paris © Emmanuel DUNAND / AFP
His half of the table, already less provided than that of the top, has become even clearer with the premature defeats of the world N.2 Daniil Medvedev and Jannik Sinner (9th). But there remains Alexander Zverev, former N.2 now 27th, heavily injured in the right ankle while he led the hard life to Rafael Nadal in the semifinals last year, and the outgoing finalist Casper Ruud (4th). The latter got out of the Chinese trap Zhizhen Zhang (71st) 4-6, 6-4, 6-1, 6-4.
"It was very hard, I was a bit frustrated at the beginning of the match, I didn't start as I would have liked. But I played better and better," said the Norwegian, who will face Chilean Nicolas Jarry (35th) in the next round.
Outgoing finalist and world No. 6, Coco Gauff ended the adventure of another teenager, the Russian Mirra Andreeva, 6-7 (5/7), 6-1, 6-1.
"She's super young, she has a big future ahead of her," said the 19-year-old American.
Before challenging Gauff, Andreeva, recently 16 and experiencing her first Grand Slam tournament, had not lost a set in five Porte d'Auteuil matches, including qualifying.
The great absentee of the Parisian tournament and master of the place, Nadal, gave him news: he has undergone arthroscopy on his painful hip since the Australian Open and will begin "a convalescence of five months".
© 2023 AFP