Sunday , April 2 2023

Stunning upset as Swiatek out of Australian Open


Bureau Report

SYDNEY: Top seed Iga Swiatek is out of the Australian Open after losing to Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina in the fourth round.

Rybakina, seeded 22nd, had struggled to replicate the displays which saw her win at the All England Club in July but against Swiatek the Kazakh showed again how she thrives on the big stage, playing confidently and powerfully in a 6-4 6-4 win at Melbourne Park.

Less than half an hour later, Coco Gauff lost 7-5 6-3 to Jelena Ostapenko.

American seventh seed Gauff, 18, was among the favourites for the title but was overpowered by the 17th seed from Latvia.

Rybakina, 23, will play former French Open champion Ostapenko in the quarter-finals instead of the match-up between Swiatek and Gauff that many predicted.

“I am nervous every time I am on court but I try to show calm. It is a big win and I’m happy to be in another round,” Rybakina said.

Third seed Jessica Pegula, the highest-ranked player left in the women’s draw, came through 7-5 6-2 against Czech Barbora Krejcikova.

The American could face two-time Melbourne champion Victoria Azarenkain the quarter-finals should Azarenka beat Zhu Lin later on Sunday.

Poland’s Swiatek rose to the top of the world rankings last year following the retirement of Australia’s Ashleigh Barty, going on to win the French Open and US Open titles as she dominated the WTA Tour.

She reached the Melbourne semi-finals last year and, after a remarkable 2022, returned aiming to be the first women since Serena Williams in 2015 to hold three of the four major titles.

“I felt like I took a step back in terms of how I approach these tournaments and I maybe wanted it a little bit too hard,” she said.

“So I’m going to try to chill out a little bit more.”

Rybakina’s success has been more sporadic. Between claiming the most prestigious title in tennis and the start of this year’s Australian Open, she won just 14 of her 24 matches and has spoken out about the lack of recognition she feels she has been given.

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