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Ostapenko throws defending champion Swiatek out of the US Open

Defending champion Iga Swiatek was eliminated in the fourth round of the US Open on Sunday, ending her reign as world number one after beating Latvia’s Jelena 3-6, 6-3, 6-1 at Arthur Ashe Stadium Ostapenko prevailed.

The Polish four-time Grand Slam winner had not lost a set ahead of Sunday’s game but was unable to stop the confident No. 20 seed’s attack.

She will be replaced as world number one by Belarus’ Aryna Sabalenka when the rankings are updated after the tournament, having held her place at the top since April 2022.

“If you lose it, there are some sad feelings,” Swiatek said. “This season has been really tough and intense. It’s not easy to deal with all that stuff.”

Ostapenko fired a clear forehand winner to break her opponent’s serve at match point, building her fist in the process as she extended her career head-to-head record against Swiatek to 4-0.

Next, the 2017 Roland Garros champion meets sixth-seeded American Coco Gauff, who defeated wildcard Caroline Wozniacki in three sets earlier in the day.

“I always expect a tough fight against Iga,” said Ostapenko. “I knew I had to play my game. I have to be aggressive because she doesn’t really like it and I just fought until the last point.”

Swiatek got off on the wrong foot, helping Ostapenko break in the first game with a double fault and two forehand errors.

However, she broke back immediately and took another break point chance with a great forehand winner in game six before taking the opener.

But in the second set it started to crumble for Swiatek.

She sent a forehand to give Ostapenko a break in game two and failed to convert a break point in game 9 before Ostapenko leveled the game to level at 1-1.

Swiatek looked demoralized in the third set, while Ostapenko continued to up her level, controlling the first five games and adding just two more unforced errors en route to victory.

‘NOTHING TO LOSE’

The win extends Ostapenko’s best performance at the hardcourt major as she had not progressed past the third round in six previous main round appearances.

The 26-year-old said playing like she had “nothing to lose” was the key to victory.

“I knew she was a great player and very consistent, especially in the last few years. I also knew there would be a lot of pressure on her because she’s number one. If she loses to me, she loses first place,” Ostapenko said.

“I knew there would be moments when I would have chances and I was waiting for it. Second set 4-1, 4-3, a bit difficult. I still played and fought. I think I ended up dominating the match.”

Swiatek was surprised her level changed “so drastically” and had to watch the game again to understand where it all went wrong.

She added that she was disappointed with her overall performance at the hard-court majors this year after also being eliminated in the fourth round at the Australian Open.

“I don’t really know what happened to my game. I suddenly felt like I was out of control. I just have to watch and see because yeah, I didn’t really know why I started making so many mistakes,” she said.

Ostapenko faces a major challenge against the in-form Gauff, who she defeated in the fourth round of the Australian Open earlier this year.

“She’s a great young player, I played her in Australia this year. It was a tough game,” said Ostapenko.

“Of course it will be a tough game again. I don’t expect easy games here at the Grand Slams. So I’m ready for another fight.”

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