French Open day 9: Three matches to watch
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French Open day 9: Three matches to watch

Easy does it: Iga Swiatek returns the ball to Wang Xinyu in her third round match which she won without dropping a game
Easy does it: Iga Swiatek returns the ball to Wang Xinyu in her third round match which she won without dropping a game

PARIS - Iga Swiatek targets a place in the French Open quarter-finals on Monday as she closes in on becoming the first woman in 16 years to win back-to-back titles at Roland Garros.

In the bottom quarter of the men's draw, which was blown wide open by the first round exit of world number two Daniil Medvedev, the highest seed left is two-time semi-finalist Alexander Zverev.

Here, AFP Sport takes a look ahead at three standout matches on the ninth day of the 2023 tournament (x denotes seeded player):

- Iga Swiatek (POL x1) v Lesia Tsurenko (UKR)

In six sets played so far, two-time champion Swiatek has handed out four 'bagels' so Tsurenko should fear the worst.

The world number 66 has lost both of her previous meetings with the Pole in straight sets.

In the first round at Roland Garros last year she lost 6-2, 6-0. When the pair met again in Rome last month, the scoreline was identical.

Tsurenko, 34, is bidding to make the quarter-finals of a Slam for the second time, having reached the US Open last eight in 2018.

"Probably one of the biggest challenges on tour right now," said Tsurenko on facing Swiatek who needed just 51 minutes to blitz Wang Xinyu on Saturday.

Tsurenko has made the last 16 by knocking out two former Slam champions in Barbora Krejcikova and Bianca Andreescu.

- Grigor Dimitrov (BUL x28) v Alexander Zverev (GER x22) -

Regarded as one of the most naturally talented players never to have won a Grand Slam title, time is running out for the 32-year-old Dimitrov who has reached the semi-finals at the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the US Open but never in Paris.

In the main draw for the 13th time, he is in the fourth round in Paris for the second time without facing a seeded player.

That changes on Monday when he take on two-time semi-finalist and Olympic champion Alexander Zverev whose tournament in 2022 was ended by an ankle ligament injury in the last four against Rafael Nadal.

Zverev holds a 3-1 head-to-head advantage over Dimitrov including a win in their only clash on clay in Rome seven years ago.

- Tomas Martin Etcheverry (ARG) v Yoshihito Nishioka (JPN x27) -

Nishioka is proof that you do not need to be a towering on-court presence to get ahead in tennis.

Standing at just 1.70m (5ft 7ins), the world number 33 is in the last 16 of a Grand Slam for a second successive major after his breakthrough performance in Australia.

Until this year, he had never passed the second round at Roland Garros while last year he managed just four games in an opening rout at the hands of Novak Djokovic when he was ranked a lowly 99.

Nishioka came back from two sets down to defeat JJ Wolf in the first round, then dropped the opening set to Max Purcell before winning in five sets after twice trailing to defeat Thiago Seyboth Wild in the last 32.

Etcheverry, ranked at 49, is in the last 16 of a Slam for the first time by knocking out 18th seed Alex de Minaur and Borna Coric, the 15th seed, in earlier rounds.

"I have been working very hard because I have spent many years to achieve this," said the 23-year-old Argentine who has yet to drop a set.

Ahead of his first meeting with Nishioka, he added: "I'm playing well, I'm rested because I played little and I'm more of a clay court player than him."

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