Yulia Putintseva shocks Iga Swiatek, Ons Jabeur also lands with a thud

Yulia Putintseva vs Iga Swiatek in Wimbledon 2024
Yulia Putintseva vs Iga Swiatek in Wimbledon 2024 (PC: Wimbledon)

There is something special about these Russian-born players who represent Kazakhstan as tennis professionals. Elena Rybakina is well known, famous and a superstar in her own right. On Saturday, at Court No.1, 29-year-old Yulia Putintseva produced a massive upset which could be measured on the Richter scale as she dumped Iga Swiatek out of Wimbledon in the third round.

To some, this upset may be a shock. But for those who have followed the recent results in the women’s tennis tour, Yulia has been knocking hard. After winning a title at the warm-up tournament in Birmingham, two weeks ago, Yulia has started believing in herself. Her previous meetings against Iga Swiatek resulted in losses.

But then, on a Saturday evening at Court 1. Yulia swung her racquet with fecundity and felicity to wreck Iga’s amazing run this season. The Polish numero uno has been simply unstoppable in 2024, but there is a definite mind-block she has on grass. For Iga to again fumble on grass was no accident as Yulia played fearless tennis to carve out a 3-6, 6-1, 6-2 verdict against the queen of tennis.

Fact is, Iga Swiatek, for all her dominance on clay, has never won Wimbledon. This time, maybe, she was best placed to win, if you go by seedings alone. For all those who have followed tennis action at The Championships in Wimbledon for decades, upsets happen, as that’s why it is the most difficult Major to conquer.

One can very easily say as an Iga fan, this was her off day. Damn, at Wimbledon, even the sacred Middle Sunday, which used to be for rest and prayer has been done away with. So, Iga Swiatek floundering with 38 unforced errors in a two-hour contest was unpardonable. Then again, Yulia took her chances against the biggest player today in the distaff side, which saw her bury a few balls into the net or hit wide.

Before entering the court, Yulia had spoken to her coach Matteo Donati and the message was simple: Have faith and go hard. That’s what Yulia did, showing zero signs of nerve. The big stage is where on has to conquer the inner demons at Wimbledon. That done, pulling out magical strokes becomes easier, as the Yulia classic was effulgent.

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Iga Swiatek in Wimbledon
Iga Swiatek in Wimbledon (PC: Iga Swiatek/X)

To be sure, as the match wore on, Iga was running on an ‘empty tank.’ “I felt I underachieved, but it’s tennis, so you have to move on. I’ll have many more chances this year to show my game,” said Iga. Yes, Iga will have many more chances but the Wimbledon fortnight comes once a year!

Tennis writers went back to the time once Yulia Putintseva had said she is “a gangster on the court and an angel of it.” She may have been reminded about all this as well on Saturday but the Kazakhi chose to focus on the present when she spoke to the media.

“Honestly, the title in Birmingham give me a lot of confident that I can play and I can be good on grass, because before that my statistic on grass wasn’t that successful. Let’s put it that way. Last year I won none (no) matches on grass. I mean, entering the tournament like Wimbledon, when you have five consecutive wins on grass, it’s pretty good. You feel this surface much, much better,” said Yulia, summing up her journey. For those who love tennis trivia, three top seeds before this had bombed in the third round at Wimbledon: Ana Ivanovic in 2008, Simona Halep in 2018 and Iga Swiatek herself in 2022.

If the No.1 seed losing was an upset, Saturday also was about tears for Ons Jabeur. The two-time finalist at Wimbledon ran into Elina Svitolina and faced misery on Centre Court. Over the last two years, unmindful of the political turmoil in Britan, they have supported Ukraine in the war against Russia.

Elina Svitolina is from Ukraine, aged 29, and loves to play at Wimbledon. However, for her to win in just 80 minutes, a 6-1, 7-6 (7/4) win against Ons Jabeur was defining. Where Elina looked superior was in her consistency, even as Ons struggled with her serve, such an important component for tennis on grass. “Not serving the way I wanted in the first set brought back a bit of sad memories,” said the Tunisian.

For her part, Elina is more than happy to showcase her ‘A’ game against a player who commands enormous respect at Wimbledon. “Definitely, it was a great performance. I’m really happy the way I was playing, the way I was moving around the court. I had to be focused from the first point to the last one, and I’m happy I could execute that,” said Elina. An important aspect which caught the eye was how Elina showed nimble footwork on grass. That helps on a natural surface with so many variables, especially when it rains.

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