The women’s draw is also wide open. The world number 1 and great favorite Iga Swiatek was eliminated in the eighth round by the Kazakh Elena Rybakina (6-4, 6-4). Tense, the Polish was dominated by a Rybakina full of audacity and determination. The winner of Wimbledon last year becomes the scarecrow of the top of the draw.
This match against Elena Rybakina had all the trappings of a trap for Iga Swiatek, and it was confirmed. In this duel between the two winners of the last three women’s Grand Slam tournaments (US Open and French Open for Swiatek, Wimbledon for Rybakina), the Polish player was never in her element. Tense, she was unable to break her opponent, who played her luck well before finishing with a shutout to eliminate the tour’s leader (6-4, 6-4).
While the result may come as a surprise given Swiatek’s dominance on the circuit, it makes perfect sense given what took place on court. The Polish player appeared nervous from the start of the match, even receiving a warning before the first stroke. She was then broken from the start while leading 40-0. Swiatek struggled on her serve (only 57% of points won), but never broke free against an opponent who had everything right throughout the match.
RYBAKINA, NEW FAVORITE?
The Kazakh’s game plan was simple, but it required a lot of skill to implement it. To prevent the world number 1 from getting into her rhythm, Rybakina shortened the rally at all costs. With 24 winners and 25 unforced errors, she played the game and constantly attacked Swiatek on her second balls, putting a lot of pressure on the Polish player while protecting herself on her serve with a solid first ball (6 aces and 80% of points won behind her first).
But the difference was especially visible in the attitudes. Where Swiatek was all nervous, Rybakina managed to keep an impressive release, and even a smile. She didn’t panic when the Pole came back in the first set, and broke her again at 3-3 before closing out the set with a shutout. She showed the same composure in the second set when Swiatek took the lead (3-0). Still aggressive and solid on the backhand, the Kazakh won five of the last six games, once again finishing with a shutout. A nice way for her to remind herself of her status as a Wimbledon winner, and to grant herself the status of favorite. She will face Jelena Ostapenko, winner of Coco Gauff, in the quarters.
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