Sport Run of French Open upsets guarantees Ash Barty year-end No.1 ranking
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Run of French Open upsets guarantees Ash Barty year-end No.1 ranking

Ash Barty, in Cairns in August, will retain her world No.1 ranking. Photo: Tennis Australia/AAP
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Ash Barty is guaranteed to finish the year with the world No.1 ranking after Poland’s Iga Swiatek shocked top seed and title favourite Simona Halep in the fourth round of the French Open.

The 19-year-old from Poland thumped 30 winners and outplayed Halep in all areas of the court to win 6-1 6-2 on Sunday.

Halep and Swiatek met at the same stage last summer with the Pole, a former junior Wimbledon champion, managing to win just one game.

The teenager appeared stunned after this famous victory, saying: “I don’t know what happened. I felt like I was playing perfectly. I was so focused the whole match. Even I am surprised that I can do that.”

The loss ended Halep’s career-best winning streak of 17 consecutive matches, guaranteeing that Barty – who chose to skip the US and French Opens due to concerns about coronavirus and her preparation – would finish the year atop the world rankings.

But the Romanian was able to keep the loss in perspective.

“I realise that it was a fantastic year with all the tough moments that we all had, so I’m not going to ruin the whole year just for a match,” Halep said.

“Of course it’s not easy to take it, but I’m used to some tough moments in this career.

“So I will have a chocolate and I will be better tomorrow.”

It was immediately clear on Sunday how much Swiatek has developed in the past year as she raced into a 3-0 lead.

She hit 17 winners in the first set and, although Halep made only two unforced errors, she was simply not able to get into the match.

The Romanian began to shoot panicked glances towards coach Darren Cahill as Swiatek moved ahead again early in the second set, the teenager showing no signs at all of stage fright.

Halep tried to fight back but more often than not it was Swiatek winning the biggest points and she was nerveless in serving it out.

It was a disappointing ending for world No.2 Halep, who had not lost a match since the Australian Open.

Another major shock swiftly followed as Italian qualifier Martina Trevisan defeated fifth seed Kiki Bertens 6-4 6-4 to set up a clash with Swiatek.

“I came here two weeks ago to play the qualifiers and today I’m here in the quarter-finals. I can’t believe it,” said Trevisan, who will break into the top 100 of the WTA rankings on Monday.

“I’m really honoured to play on this court with Bertens; she’s an incredible player.”

Halep’s exit means there is guaranteed to be a new French Open champion, with third seed Elina Svitolina now the highest-ranked player left and the only seed in the top half.

Sofia Kenin and Petra Kvitova, who are both in the bottom half, are the only slam champions remaining.

Svitolina will know what a huge chance this is for her to make a first slam final and she was impressive in a 6-1 6-3 victory over French favourite Caroline Garcia.

In the last eight she will take on the second qualifier through to this stage, Argentina’s Nadia Podoroska, who defeated Czech Barbora Krejcikova 2-6 6-2 6-3.