Australian Open: Elena Rybakina ousts top-ranked Iga Swiatek in pre-quarters

Elena Rybakina posted the biggest shocker of the 2023 Australian Open on Sunday as she took out world no. 1 Iga Swiatek in the fourth round. The 22nd-seeded Kazakh won 6-4, 6-4 in an hour and 29 minutes.

The no. 1 seed looked uncomfortable and passive throughout the match. At the start of the match, she had quite a slow start and promptly found herself down a break. Although she got back into the set with a break back, she didn’t look like she’d settled into a rhythm of any sort. In the second set, the proceedings turned the other way – with Swiatek first breaking Rybakina but unable to hold the advantage for long which allowed her opponent to get back in the set and eventually, claim the match in straight sets.

Australian Open: Elena Rybakina makes her mark

Swiatek won only 57% points on her first serve despite putting in 63% of her first serves to Rybakina’s 56%. The latter, however, won 80% of her first-serve points. Rybakina’s aggressive game also accounted for her hitting 24 winners and 25 unforced errors while Swiatek trailed with 14 winners and 15 unforced errors. Rybakina also had more success at the net winning 80% points to Swiatek’s 67%. The 2022 Wimbledon champion saved two of the four break points she faced while converting four of the six break points she had on the three-time Slam champion’s serve. 

Rybakina’s opponent in the quarter-final will be 17th seed Jelena Ostapenko. The Latvian posted an upset of her own in the fourth round, defeating seventh seed Coco Gauff, 7-5, 6-3 minutes after the result of the Swiatek-Rybakina match-up.

Gauff had come through her previous rounds without much ado but she wasn’t able to play freely against Ostapenko. The American did break Ostapenko’s serve first in the opening set but was broken right back as she attempted to consolidate the break. In the 12th game, Gauff had two game points to take the set into the tie-break but a couple of errors from her and a couple of winners for Ostapenko saw the set go the latter’s way.

The loss of the first set jarred Gauff completely in the second set and she played it on a hesitant note. The set’s – and the match’s – end was decided by just the one break, in the ninth game following which Ostapenko served out the match, converting it on the first of the two match points she had.

This is the first time both Elena Rybakina and Jelena Ostapenko have reached the quarter-finals of the Australian Open. Ostapenko will also go into the match with a 2-0 record against the world no. 25. 

Photo Credit: WTA Twitter