High-ranked Swiatek falls to Rybakina in straight sets at Australian Open | TBEN Sports


There will be no showdown between Iga Swiatek and Coco Gauff at the Australian Open. Instead, it will be the players they defeated on Sunday – reigning Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina and 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko – who will be fighting for a semifinal spot.

Rybakina knocked out No. 1 seed Iga Swiatek 6-4, 6-4 at Rod Laver Arena, while Ostapenko passed No. 7 Gauff 7-5, 6-3 wide at Margaret Court Arena.

Both 22nd-seeded Rybakina, a 23-year-old representing Kazakhstan, and 17th-seeded Ostapenko, a 25-year-old from Latvia, secured places in the quarter-finals at Melbourne Park for the first time.

“I played well in the important moments,” said Rybakina, who used her big serve to upset Swiatek and top their baseline exchanges. “Of course I’m nervous every time I go on the field, I think like everyone else. But I’m calm, always. At least I try not to show too much emotion. My coach says sometimes I really have to show.” So I’m learning too.”

Swiatek is a three-time major champion, including titles at the French Open and US Open last season. She defeated Gauff, an 18-year-old American, in the final at Roland Garros last June.

Until Sunday, they both looked fairly dominant in this event, winning every set they contested, with Swiatek losing just 15 games in total and Gauff losing just 19 in three matches.

One key to Ostapenko vs. Gauff: Ostapenko went three-of-three to convert her break chances, and Gauff was only one-of-eight in such situations.

Rybakina’s ranking of No. 25 does not properly reflect her ability or results, as her championship at the All England Club in July yielded no ranking points. The WTA and ATP tours withdrew all points at Wimbledon in 2022 after the All England Club banned players from Russia and Belarus due to the invasion of Ukraine.

Rybakina was born in Moscow, but has been playing for Kazakhstan since 2018, when the country offered her money to support her tennis career.

Despite her status as a grand champion, Rybakina was not in the limelight: her first-round match at Melbourne Park took place on tiny Court 13 last Monday; her match against two-time Slam champion Garbine Muguruza at the US Open lasting at least a year was on Court 4.

But her game deserves a lot more attention as she showed by knocking out Swiatek.

Elena Rybakina celebrates match point during her fourth-round victory over Iga Swiatek in Melbourne on Sunday. (Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Rybakina hit six aces to accumulate a 24-15 lead in winners against the 21-year-old from Poland, who was a semi-finalist in Australia a year ago. That followed Rybakina’s victory over 2022 runner-up Danielle Collins in the third round.

Swiatek was not at her best and Rybakina had a lot to do with that. In the opening match, Swiatek led 40-love but was broken. In the next round, Swiatek had two break points at 15-40, but also failed to convert them. So early, while it ended up being 2-2, it could very well have been 4-0 in Swiatek’s favour.

Rybakina eventually served that set on love, with an ace of 113 mph (183 km/h), and her dangerous backhand helped quite a bit too: she produced six winners off that wing in the first set, compared to zero for Swiatek.

In the second set, Swiatek seemed to have gotten herself back on track and looked very much like the player who put on a 37-match winning streak last year. But that wave didn’t last long and Rybakina won six of the last seven games of the competition.