The defending champion Iga Świątek lost to Latvia’s Jelena Ostapenko 6:3, 3:6, 1:6 and was eliminated in the 1/8 finals of the US Open Grand Slam in New York. The Polish tennis player will lose the first place in the world ranking to the Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka, which she has held since April 4 last year.
The 22-year-old from Raszyn lost all three previous matches with a four-year-old player from Riga. Although it has been a year and a half since their last clash, the first game indicated that the Polish woman still had previous matches with Ostapenko, known for her uncompromising and risky game, in her head and ended with a break.
In the next Świątek, she made up for the loss, but in a rather nervous beginning on both sides, there were more mistakes than spectacular actions.
As time ped, on the court of them. Artur Ashe, the largest tennis arena in the world with over 23 thousand. seats for the audience, the greater regularity of the Polish woman began to take over. A series of mistakes by the winner of the French Open 2017 made the charge of coach Tomasz Wiktorowski jump to 5:2.
The turquoise-dressed Ostapenko, who made her first appearance in the round of 16 in New York, broke her bad streak in the eighth game, mainly thanks to an effective serve. However, in the next game, the Polish woman – more subdued not only in her clothes, but also in her reactions on the court – sealed her success in the first game. 6:3 after 40 minutes of play.
Seeded number 20. The Latvian, in the past number five in women’s tennis, did not intend to change the style of the game and also started the second set by “bombing” Świątek from the depths of the court. And just like in the premiere, she immediately managed to break the Polish woman’s p, and since she added an effective serve to it, she quickly took the lead 3:0.
The favorite tried to knock her rival out of the shot, she slowed down the game, but she could not catch the right rhythm herself, she spoiled a lot of balls. On the other hand, Ostapenko played more and more steadily, calmly and skilfully finished the exchanges.
It seemed that the breakthrough would come in the eighth game, when the Latvian failed to hit any first serve, committed two double faults in this element and lost it without a scored point. In a moment, however, last year’s winner “returned” her opponent with a double mistake, she also had problems with throwing the ball properly and after a weak game it became 3:5.
Ostapenko did not repeat these mistakes and did not waste the opportunity to level the match. For the fourth time in this edition of the US Open, the third, decisive game awaited her, and the Polish woman lost the first set. In the three previous duels, she lost only nine games, as much as in two sets with the Latvian.
Hitting the net in a seemingly simple situation meant that Świątek started the decisive part from losing her own game. The game in this part of the meeting clearly did not go according to the leader of the ranking, and the faces of her staff members more and more often showed anxiety mixed with helplessness. Successful actions that could turn the situation around on the court were rare, and Ostapenko, feeling more and more confident, was building an advantage.
The Latvian quickly added more games, and on the scoreboard next to the name of the Polish woman there was still a zero. In the first five games of this game, she scored only seven points. Then Ostapenko slowed down for a moment and Świątek won a game on her serve, but in the next one she finished the job.
It was a few minutes before midnight local time when she could throw her hands up in a gesture of triumph after her victory over Świątek, just like in Birmingham in 2019, Indian Wells two years later and one and a half years ago in Dubai. At that time, it was the last defeat of the Polish woman before an impressive series of 37 won matches, which resulted in, among others, taking the lead in the world ranking.
Another defeat with Ostapenko buckled the period of Polish rule. Next Monday she will relinquish world No. 1 after 525 days, which translates to 75 weeks, making her 10th in the all-time standings. The longest-running tennis player – 377 weeks – remains Germany’s Steffi Graf.
The new, 29th in history leader of the WTA list, i.e. the clification developed since November 3, 1975 by the Women’s Tennis ociation, i.e. an organization that conducts women’s professional competition, will be Sabalenka.
The 25-year-old from Minsk, New York, achieved at least the same result as Świątek (she will fight for the quarter-finals on Monday), and this was the condition for her to overtake her at the top of the ranking.
Świątek was the last representative of Poland in the singles competition at this year’s US Open. In doubles, Magda Linette and Jan Zieliński with foreign partners are still in the game. (PAP)