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LONDON (AP) — Top-seeded tennis player Iga Swiatek faltered again at Wimbledon, losing 3-6, 6-1, 6-2 to Yulia Putintseva in the third round on Saturday, ending a 21-match winning streak for Swiatek.

LONDON (AP) — World No. 1 Iga Swiatek faltered again at Wimbledon, losing 3-6, 6-1, 6-2 to Yulia Putintseva in the third round on Saturday.

The result ended Swiatek’s 21-match winning streak. She is a five-time Grand Slam champion, including four titles on red clay at the French Open – most recently last month – and one on hard court at the US Open.

The grass of the All England Club has always caused her the most problems as a professional at all major tournaments, even though the 23-year-old Pole did win the Junior Trophy as a teenager.

Swiatek has only made it to the quarterfinals at Wimbledon once, when she was eliminated last year. In 2022, her 37-match winning streak ended with a third-round loss to Alize Cornet at the All England Club.

Swiatek has spoken of looking forward to improving on grass, but decided last month to withdraw from the only preparation tournament that was originally on her schedule before Wimbledon.

Putintseva, ranked 35th in the world, has now played eight consecutive matches herself, all on grass, including a title in Birmingham before coming to London. Still, it is the first time in 10 Wimbledon appearances that the 29-year-old Kazakh has progressed beyond the second round.

Her best performance at a Grand Slam tournament was reaching the quarterfinals twice at the French Open and once at the US Open.

This result was also unexpected, as Swiatek had not only won all four previous encounters against Putintseva, but had also won all the sets they had played.

When asked how she managed to pull off the win, the often bubbly Putintseva replied in a post-match interview on Court No. 1: “I don’t know. I really don’t know.”

At least one important aspect of what happened is this: Swiatek did not look at all like someone who has topped the WTA rankings almost every week since April 2022 and is sure to stay there no matter what happens at Wimbledon.

She made repeated mistakes, especially in the last two sets, when Putintseva did not even try to hit the balls and instead happily let Swiatek help her.

When Putintseva built a 4-0 lead in the final set by winning 16 of the first 19 points, she only needed two winners, as her other 14 points came either from unforced errors (seven) or forced errors (seven) from Swiatek’s racket.

After a missed shot into the net, Swiatek muttered to herself. When another point went wrong, she covered her mouth with her hand. Overall, she seemed more nervous than ever during a match. By the end, she had accumulated 38 unforced errors, more than twice as many as her opponent’s 15.


AP Tennis:

Howard Fendrich, Associated Press