MELBOURNE—Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina eliminated No. 1-ranked Iga Swiatek in straight sets Sunday to reach the Australian Open quarterfinals for the first time.
The 22nd-seeded Rybakina used her big serving to unsettle Swiatek and got the better of their baseline exchanges to win, 6-4, 6-4, in about and -and-a-half hours.
Swiatek is a three-time major champion, including titles at the French Open and US Open last season.
Rybakina’s ranking does not properly reflect her ability or results because her championship at the All England Club last July did not come with any ranking points. The Women’s Tennis Association and Association of Tennis Professionals tours withheld all points at Wimbledon in 2022 after the All England Club barred players from Russia and Belarus from participating because of the invasion of Ukraine.
Rybakina was born in Moscow but has represented Kazakhstan since 2018, when that country offered her funding to support her tennis career.
Despite her status as a major champion, Rybakina has been out of the spotlight: Her first-round match at Melbourne Park was placed on tiny Court 13 last Monday; her match against two-time Slam champ Garbiñe Muguruza at least year’s US Open was on Court 4.
But her game is worthy of much more attention, as she displayed in knocking out Swiatek at Rod Laver Arena.
Rybakina hit six aces and compiled a 24-15 edge in winners against the 21-year-old from Poland, who was a semifinalist a year ago in Australia. That followed Rybakina’s victory over 2022 runner-up Danielle Collins in the third round.
Until Sunday, Swiatek had looked fairly dominant, winning every set she contested and dropping a total of just 15 games through three matches.
Image credits: AP