Melbourne, Australia – It sounded so easy Iga Swiatek Last season: two Grand Slam titles, eight titles in total, 37-game winning streak and a long stay at No. 1 in the world rankings.
These accomplishments have made everyone expect continued greatness from Swiatek, which she can do nothing about. They also changed the way they approached the big moments, losing 6-4, 6-4 to the Wimbledon champ. Elena Rybakina The fourth round of the Australian Open on Sunday made Swiatek wonder if she needed to re-evaluate her look.
“I felt like I took a step back in terms of the way I approach these tournaments, and maybe I just wanted it to be a little difficult,” she said. “So I’ll try to relax a little bit more. I felt the pressure, and I felt like ‘I don’t want to lose’ instead of ‘I want to win.'”
So there will be no showdown between Swiatek and the No. 7 seed Coco Jove In the quarter-finals at Melbourne Park. Instead, it will be Rybakina sparring with the 2017 French Open champion Yelena Ostapenko7-5, 6-3 winner against Gauff, with a semi-final berth at stake.
“I left her under a lot of stress,” said Ostapenko.
Add Swiatek’s loss to Week 1’s exit by Anas JaberAnd Rafael Nadal And Casper RoadThis Australian Open marks the first Grand Slam tournament in the Open era – which began in 1968 – in which the top two seeds disappeared before the quarter-finals.
Rybakina, seeded 22nd, 23-year-old representing Kazakhstan, seeded 17th, Ostapenko, 25-year-old from Latvia, reached this far in Australia for the first time.
“There were moments in the game where I was frustrated, because normally I can work it out, but today I feel like I didn’t have much of an answer for what she was doing,” said Goff, 18, of Florida. Who was runner-up to Soatek at the French Open last June.
“There were balls I’d hit deep, and she’d hit them on the line and hit them deep, over and over,” said Goff, who dried tears during her press conference. “It’s just one of those days that didn’t go its way and went its way.”
One key: Ostapenko went 3-for-3 converting her break chances, and Gauff was only 1-for-8 in such situations.
Meanwhile, Rybakina used her big serve to produce half a dozen aces, part of her 24-15 aggregate advantage against Swiatek.
Until Sunday, Swiatek and Gauff looked fairly in control for a week, winning every set they contested. Swiatek lost a total of just 15 games, Gauff only 19, through three starts.
“Sure, when you play against the No. 1 seed, I think you really have nothing to lose,” Rybakina said. “I knew I had to be aggressive from the first ball because she’s a great pusher, and she defends really well. So I was just trying to attack her from the first ball, and it really worked.”
Rybakina’s ranking of 25 does not properly reflect her ability or results as her All England Club Championships in July brought no ranking points. The WTA and WTA tours blocked all points at Wimbledon in 2022 after the All England Club banned players from Russia and Belarus from participating over the invasion of Ukraine.
Rybakina – who was born in Moscow but has played for Kazakhstan since 2018, when the state offered funding to support her tennis career – said her current situation “doesn’t bother me, because it’s been six months,” but also admitted that it provides some motivation.
Despite her status as a major champion, however, Rybakina has been out of the spotlight: her first-round match at Melbourne Park was drawn up on the small 13 court last Monday, and her match against two-time Slam champion Garbiñe Muguruza was the year’s least US Open. in court 4.
But her game deserves more attention, as she knocked out Swiatek, in one game after defeating the 2022 Australian Open runner-up. Daniel Collins.
Swiatek wasn’t in the best shape, and Rybakina had a lot to do with that. In the opener, Swiatek drove in with a par of 40 but was broke. The next day, Swiatek held two break points at 15-40 but failed to convert as well. So early on, while it ended up 2-2, it could have been 4-0 in Swiatek’s favor, and she called the sequence “a little annoying.”
Rybakina ended up serving the set in love, heading off the 113 mph (183 km/h) ace, and her dangerous backhand was very useful as well: She produced six winners from that wing in the first set, compared to zero for @Swiatek.
In the second set, Swiatek appeared to be back on track, going up 3-0. But that rally was short-lived, and Rybakina took six of the last seven hits in the match.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.