No. 1 Iga Swiatek loses in third round of Wimbledon


WIMBLEDON — World number one Iga Swiatek faltered again at Wimbledon, losing 3-6, 6-1, 6-2 to Yulia Putintseva in the third round on Saturday.

The result ended Swiatek's 21-match winning streak. She is a five-time Grand Slam champion, including four titles on red clay at the French Open – most recently last month – and one on hard courts at the US Open.

But the grass at the All England Club has always given her the most trouble in any major tournament as a professional player, although the 23-year-old from Poland won the junior trophy as a teenager.

Swiatek has only reached the quarterfinals at Wimbledon once; that was last year, when she lost at that stage. In 2022, her 37-match unbeaten run ended with a third-round loss to Alize Cornet at the All England Club.

Swiatek has spoken of performing better on grass but decided to pull out of the only tuneup event on her schedule ahead of Wimbledon last month.

Putintseva, ranked 35th, now has eight matches played on grass, including the title in Birmingham before arriving in London. Still, this is the first time in 10 appearances at Wimbledon that the 29-year-old from Kazakhstan has managed to get past the second round.

Her best performances at any Grand Slam have been reaching the quarterfinals at the French Open twice and at the US Open once.

The result was unexpected as Swiatek had not only won all four previous meetings against Putintseva, but she had also won every set.

When asked during a post-match interview on No. 1 Court how she managed to pull off the win, the usually upbeat Putintseva replied: “I don't know. Honestly, I don't know.”

Well, at least one important part of what happened is this: Swiatek did not look like someone who has been at the top of the WTA rankings almost every week since April 2022 and will remain there no matter what happens the rest of the way to Wimbledon.

She continued to make mistakes, especially in the final two sets, when Putintseva not only made an effort to put the ball away but seemed happy to let Swiatek help her out.

When Putintseva was 4-0 up by winning 16 of the first 19 points in the final set, she needed to make only two winners because her remaining 14 points were either unforced errors (seven) or forced errors (seven) off Swiatek's racket.

After missing once into the net, Swiatek said to herself. After another point went wrong, she put her hand over her mouth. In general, she looked as nervous as ever during the match. By the end, she had accumulated 38 unforced errors, more than double her opponent's 15.

Putintseva will next face 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko, who is seeded 13th. Also reaching the fourth round are 2021 French Open winner Barbora Krejcikova, No. 17 Anna Kalinskaya, No. 21 Elina Svitolina and unseeded Wang Xinyu.

Svitolina won 6-1, 7-6 (4) over No. 10 Ons Jabeur, a three-time Grand Slam runner-up, including at Wimbledon the past two years.


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