Women’s No. 1 seed Iga Swiatek out of Wimbledon after third-round loss

correction An alert to this story incorrectly stated that Yulia Putintseva is ranked No. 27 in the world. Putintseva is ranked No. 35. WIMBLEDON, England — At prim and proper Wimbledon, the crowds on hallowed Centre Court and prestigious Court No. 1 are generally a muted sort, respectful in their cheers unless a Brit is playing, in which case they’re loudly respectful. Things fall almost eerily silent as players prepare to serve, and even then, the usual thwack of a tennis ball hitting the court is muffled by the grass.

But the match that unfolded under a closed roof Saturday at Court No. 1 sounded more like Fourth of July fireworks than a duel at the All England Club, so explosive were the shots coming off the rackets of top-ranked Iga Swiatek and unseeded Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan. The crowd smelled the gunpowder and reacted in kind, raising its volume to deafening levels and spurring on Putintseva as she became the first woman to defeat Swiatek since April 20.

Putintseva beat the top seed, 3-6, 6-1, 6-2, in just under two hours to end Swiatek’s 21-match winning streak and send the world No. 1 home in the third round of a Grand Slam for the second time this year.


She tossed her racket aside after and held out her arms with her palms up, spinning in disbelief as the crowd showered her with applause. It was so loud that the first thing she did in her on-court interview was to ask to hear the question again.

“I couldn’t hear you, sorry,” Putintseva said, beaming.

Her win means that only three of the top 10 seeds remain in the women’s draw at the end of a rain-drenched Saturday: No. 2 Coco Gauff, No. 4 Elena Rybakina and No. 7 Jasmine Paolini.

The No. 10 seed and two-time Wimbledon finalist Ons Jabeur lost to No. 21 seed Elina Svitolina, 6-1, 7-6 (7-4), shortly before Putintseva won, and Rybakina secured her ticket to the fourth round by beating wildcard entrant and one-time Grand Slam champion Caroline Wozniacki, 6-0, 6-1.

In so many ways, Putintseva’s path to Saturday’s upset win was the inverse of her opponent’s.

Swiatek, a five-time Grand Slam champion, was a favorite to win her first title here after securing her fourth French Open crown last month, but her run was not expected to be easy.


The 23-year-old is far and away the most talented clay-court player of her generation and an all-around champion, with 22 titles across all three surfaces in tennis. But success at Wimbledon has evaded her; it is the only Grand Slam at which she has not advanced past the quarterfinals.

This time around, she stuck to her pattern and eschewed any grass-court tuneup tournaments, instead opting to travel to London early for an abbreviated training block to adjust her body to playing on grass.

Putintseva, by contrast, barreled into Saturday’s meeting riding a seven-match winning streak on grass after winning a warmup tournament in Birmingham, England. It was already the longest winning streak of her career before she tacked on victory No. 8.

The 29-year-old, who was born in Moscow before deciding to represent Kazakhstan in 2012, has only a sliver of Swiatek’s success at Grand Slams. She had never made it past the second round at Wimbledon.


But she does have guts and is playing confident tennis. Putintseva had the freedom to be fearless against Swiatek because she had never won a set in their four previous meetings.

“I was just [thinking]: ‘I can do it. I have to believe 100 percent. I have nothing to lose, just go for it,’” Putintseva said. “Also my coach told me, ‘No matter which shot you’re doing, believe 100 percent and just follow.’”

Putintseva’s mettle thus met Swiatek’s burnout.

Swiatek faded so quickly after a routine first set that she appeared to surprise herself on the court. Putintseva was solid and particularly punishing with powerful groundstrokes, but she was not whipping Swiatek around the court as much as she was holding strong in the face of her opponent’s mistakes.

Swiatek made 14 points worth of errors as she fell behind 4-0 in the third set and looked flabbergasted by her play at times, a surprising turn for a player defined by a clinical focus. After one particularly bad point, she covered her mouth in disbelief.


“My tank of really pushing myself to the limits became suddenly, like, empty. I was kind of surprised,” Swiatek said before providing instant analysis. “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.”

Swiatek said her shortcomings were all mental in the wake of an intense Roland Garros, where she became the third woman since the start of the Open era in 1968 to win three straight French Open titles. She felt she didn’t recover properly and said next year she may take a vacation instead of getting right back to work.

“I feel like on grass, I need little bit more of that energy to keep being patient and accept some mistakes,” Swiatek said. “… For me, going from this kind of tennis where I felt like I’m playing the best tennis in my life to another surface where I kind of struggle a little bit more, it’s not easy.”


Swiatek can at least take solace in knowing she will return to red clay for the Paris Olympics before embarking on the North American hard-court swing. She also will retain her No. 1 ranking after Wimbledon despite the loss, while Putintseva plays on.

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