Iga Swiatek will not win the first Australian Open of her career in 2023. The young 21-year-old Polish woman, world number one, was eliminated on Sunday January 22 in Melbourne, in the round of 16 of the first Grand Slam tournament in the season, by the Kazakh Elena Rybakina (25e)
Regularly overtaken by her opponent, Iga Swiatek, winner of the US Open in September 2022 after winning two Roland-Garros, lost in two straight sets (4-6, 4-6) and in 1h 29 .
“I served very well and played very well in the important moments. It’s a big win for me.”, rejoiced the Kazakh of Russian origin, born 23 years ago in Moscow. She managed twenty-four winning shots (against fifteen for Swiatek) and won four break points out of the six played on her opponent’s service when the latter only managed to make two of her four break points.
Rybakina, who had never made it past the third round in three appearances so far at the Australian Major, will face Latvian Jelena Ostapenko (17e) who triumphed over the American Coco Gauff (7e).
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The Kazakh settled in early in the match by taking Swiatek’s first service game to lead 2-0. But the Polish recovered at 2-2. Rybakina then managed the decisive break to lead 4-3 and win the set on a white service game punctuated by an ace.
“Elena was the strongest. It was the one who would put the most pressure on the other at the start of the game and she did it very well.agreed Iga Swiatek, pointing out that the Kazakh had hammered her with her “huge service”.
The Polish, semi-finalist last year in Melbourne, seemed to regain the upper hand in the second set by breaking away 3-0. But she lost her face-off twice and allowed Rybakina to serve for the match at 5-4. The tall Kazakh (1.83m) seized her chance and chained an ace, the sixth of the game, and a winning forehand to complete the match.
The world number one regretted her own lack of reaction: “I felt the pressure and felt like I didn’t want to lose instead of feeling like I wanted to win”she explained, adding that she had to find ” state of mind “ which allowed him to achieve an exceptional season last year by winning eight titles. “I lost too much energy before and during the tournament to worry”she insisted.
After the elimination of the Tunisian Ons Jabeur (2e) from the second round, the premature exit of the number 1 seed is a new surprise in Melbourne. This frees up Caroline Garcia’s painting somewhat. Seeded number 4 in the tournament, the French would have found Iga Swiatek on her way to the semi-finals. But before thinking so far, it is still necessary to pass the course of the eighth against another Polish, Magda Linette.