Swiatek crashes out at Wimbledon as Djokovic eyes sweet 16

Kazakhstan’s Yulia Putintseva returns against Poland’s Iga Swiatek during their women’s singles tennis match on the sixth day of the 2024 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on July 6, 2024. AFP

World number one Iga Swiatek was dumped out of Wimbledon by Yulia Putintseva on Saturday as Novak Djokovic set his sights on making the fourth round for the 16th time.

On a dramatic, if cold and wet day at the All England Club, Andy Murray’s Wimbledon career ended with a whimper when Emma Raducanu pulled the plug on their mixed doubles plans.

Top seed Swiatek, who won a fourth French Open and fifth Grand Slam title last month, was stunned 3-6, 6-1, 6-2 in the third round by Putintseva, the Russian-born Kazakh.

The upset ended Swiatek’s 21-match win streak while the diminutive Putintseva goes on to face the equally fiery Jelena Ostapenko for a quarter-final place.

“Feels great, I was just so focused on just playing fast and not giving her any time and that’s pretty much it,” said 29-year-old Putintseva after her win on Court One.

“I was thinking during the match that I had already beaten a world number one on grass so I think it was meant to be,” she added, recalling her win over Naomi Osaka in Birmingham in 2019.

After winning the first set, it appeared business as usual for Swiatek, who went into Saturday’s match with a 4-0 head-to-head record over the 35th ranked Putintseva.

However, Putintseva, who stands at just 1.63m (5ft 4ins) stormed back in the second set on the back of breaks in the fourth and sixth games.

She held her nerve to cruise to a double break and a 4-0 lead in the decider.

Swiatek saved two match points but was defeated on the third when she buried a forehand return into the net.

‘Cow on ice’

The Pole, who has never got past the quarter-finals at Wimbledon, committed 38 unforced errors to Putintseva’s 15. The Kazakh saved seven of eight break points.

Putintseva, a three-time Grand Slam quarter-finalist, extended her grass-court streak this year to eight wins after clinching the Birmingham title last month.

World number four Alexander Zverev put on another serving masterclass to reach the last 16 for the third time, seeing off Britain’s Cameron Norrie 6-4, 6-4, 7-6 (17/15).

Zverev needed six match points to seal the deal in a third-set tiebreak which stretched to over 20 minutes.

The 27-year-old German didn’t face a single break point and clubbed 15 aces in his 52 winners.

He has only faced four break points in three matches and saved them all.

“I do feel like a cow on ice sometimes,” he said of his grass-court movement.

France’s Giovanni Mpetshi Perricard dropped serve for the first time in the tournament, but still clinched a 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 (7/5), 6-4 victory against Emil Ruusuvuori.

Mpetshi Perricard, who turns 21 on Monday, is the first lucky loser to make the last 16 since Dick Norman in 1995.

On a memorable day for France, Arthur Fils claimed a 4-6, 6-3, 1-6, 6-4, 6-3 win over 2023 quarter-finalist Roman Safiullin.

Fils, ranked 34, unleashed 57 winners and will face ninth seed Alex de Minaur for a last-eight place.

French number one Ugo Humbert defeated Brandon Nakashima of the United States in four sets to set-up a last-16 clash with defending champion Carlos Alcaraz.

American 14th seed Ben Shelton beat Denis Shapovalov in five sets and will face world number one Jannik Sinner in the last 16.

‘Big dog’

Shelton followed in the footsteps of his father Bryan who made the fourth round in 1994.

“We’re back, big dog,” Shelton told his father on court.

Djokovic is looking to equal Roger Federer’s record of eight Wimbledon triumphs and claim a 25th Grand Slam title in total.

Just weeks after a right knee operation, Djokovic tackles 47th-ranked Alexei Popyrin, whom he beat in four sets at the Australian Open earlier this year.

Meanwhile, Andy Murray’s 19-year Wimbledon career finished on a low.

Former world number one Murray, who will retire after the Paris Olympics, didn’t play singles after failing to recover from surgery to remove a cyst from his spine.

On Thursday, he and brother Jamie were defeated in the first round of men’s doubles.

Murray, the 2013 and 2016 Wimbledon champion, was scheduled to partner Raducanu in Saturday’s last match on Court One.

“Unfortunately I woke up with some stiffness in my right wrist so therefore I have decided to make the very tough decision to withdraw from the mixed doubles tonight,” said Raducanu.

Raducanu, the 2021 US Open champion, faces New Zealand’s Lulu Sun on Sunday for a place in the women’s singles quarter-finals.

Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur, the runner-up in the last two years, was defeated 6-1, 7-6 (7/4) by Ukrainian 21st seed Elina Svitolina, a semi-finalist in 2023.

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