World No 1 Iga Swiatek dumped out of Wimbledon by Yulia Putintseva

There is every chance that Iga Swiatek will win Wimbledon one day but it will not be this year after the world No 1 was dumped out in the third round by Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan in a remarkable match on Saturday. The Pole, who won her fifth grand slam title last month, unravelled as Putintseva, full of tricks and tennis smarts, recorded a stunning 3-6, 6-1, 6-2 victory.

Swiatek hit 38 unforced errors, the wheels coming off as Putintseva earned the biggest win of her career to set up a last-16 clash with Jelena Ostapenko. “I totally let her come back into the [match] in the second set,” Swiatek said. “I shouldn’t have done that. I made some mistakes, as well. For sure, she used her chance. I felt like my energy level went down a little bit in the second set. I couldn’t really get back up.”

Having claimed her fourth French Open title last month, Swiatek was on a 21-match winning streak but Putintseva was also carrying plenty of confidence, having lifted the title in Birmingham two weeks ago. As the 29-year-old found her game, attacking more as the match went on, so Swiatek fell apart, the efforts of her clay court streak perhaps taking their toll.

“My tank of really pushing myself to the limits became suddenly empty,” she admitted. “I was kind of surprised. But I know what I did wrong after Roland Garros. I didn’t really rest properly. I’m not going to make this mistake again.

“I feel like on grass I need a little bit more of that energy to keep being patient and accept some mistakes. Mentally, I didn’t really do that well in this tournament. I need to recover better after the clay court season, both physically and mentally.”

There remains a fragility about the 23-year-old on grass, which denies her the time she likes to gain a solid base from which to unleash her groundstrokes. But her woes should take nothing away from Putintseva, whose speed, consistency and variety made her unstoppable as the match progressed.

The first set went according to the script but at the beginning of the second, things changed. As Swiatek faltered, Putintseva was dictating the rallies, hitting hard and flat, using the grass to her advantage.

An early break gave her a 3-1 lead in the second set and Swiatek lost her way, her second serve surprisingly vulnerable. Despite her brilliance from the baseline, Swiatek still looks uncomfortable moving forward, lacking the soft touch Putintseva showed whenever she came to the net. And when Putintseva got the chance, she unloaded on her own groundstrokes.

Iga Swiatek cuts a disconsolate figure during her defeat. Photograph: Tim Ireland/EPA

The second set disappeared in a blur, prompting Swiatek to take a lengthy bathroom break before the start of the third set. But it did not change the momentum or stop the mistakes flowing from her racket. Putintseva won 14 of the first 16 points on her way to a 4-0 lead before Swiatek finally stopped the rot, holding serve. At 5-1, 40-40 on the Swiatek serve, Putintseva was two points from victory. The Pole held serve, just, and then saved two match points with bold, go-for-broke hitting. A beautiful drop shot gave Putintseva a third match point and Swiatek dumped a backhand return in the net.

“At some point I was playing fearless,” Putintseva said. “I was just, ‘I can do it I have to believe 100%, I have nothing to lose, just go for it’. Also my coach told me: ‘No matter which shot you’re doing, believe 100% and just follow’.

“It’s when the turning point happened. I started to play really, really good. Today I’m happy, extra happy, because she didn’t lose it; I took it. I was playing really well. This is for me the most important.”

Last year, Elina Svitolina rode an emotional rollercoaster to the semi-finals and the Ukrainian is at it again, into the last 16 after taking out Ons Jabeur, the runner-up from the past two years. Svitolina raced through the first set and though Jabeur had a set point in the second set, Svitolina held her nerve to clinch a 6-1, 7-6 (4) victory.

“Definitely it was a great performance,” said Svitolina, who now plays China’s Wang Xinyu. “I’m really happy with the way I was playing, the way I was moving around the court. I had to be focused from the first point to the last one, and I’m happy I could execute that.”

Elena Rybakina, the third seed and the champion in 2022, steamrollered former world No 1 Caroline Wozniacki 6-0, 6-1 to set up a fourth-round clash with Anna Kalinskaya. The American Danielle Collins, who trailed 4-0 before the first rain break, recovered to beat Beatriz Haddad Maia, of Brazil, 6-4, 6-4.

The Guardian

Leave a Reply