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Iga Swiatek’s defense of the US Open title ended with an inspired performance by slugger Jelena Ostapenko in the round of 16.

Polish seed Swiatek lost 3-6 6-3 6-1 to Latvian 20th seed Ostapenko in Sunday night’s session in New York.

With his fearless and aggressive approach, Ostapenko scored 31 winners and forced Swiatek to make many mistakes.

Ostapenko, who won her only major at Roland Garros 2017, will next face sixth-seeded American Coco Gauff.

Swiatek’s 75-week streak as the women’s world number one ended in defeat, with Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka guaranteed to replace her after the US Open.

“I’m surprised my level has changed so drastically,” said Swiatek, 22.

“Usually when I play badly, I play badly at first and then I catch up or solve problems. This time it was totally the opposite.

“I don’t really know what happened with my game. I suddenly felt no control. »

Swiatek had lost all three of their previous encounters to Ostapenko, but the two hadn’t played since February 2022 – after which the Pole embarked on a transformational 37-game winning streak.

That run lifted Swiatek to the top of the WTA rankings, a spot she hadn’t since relinquished as her dominance grew.

How she could cope with the powerful strikes of Ostapenko, 26, was a key question in this intriguing match.

“I still expect a tough battle against Iga, she’s a very great and consistent player,” Ostapenko said.

“But I took the plunge. I know I had to play my game and be aggressive because that’s not what she likes. »

Iga Swiatek covers her face in US Open loss to Jelena Ostapenko

After falling behind early, Swiatek began to soak up the groundstrokes and quickly turned an entertaining set.

But she lost her serve again at the start of the second set and this time couldn’t save the day.

Pressed by the pace of Ostapenko’s returns, Swiatek continued to make mistakes in rallies and quickly found himself completely overwhelmed in an extraordinary deciding set.

Ostapenko notched a winning streak by taking a 5-0 lead and had the opportunity to inflict a rare 6-0 scoreline on Swiatek, who is herself notorious for winning ‘bagels’ against her opponents .

While Swiatek avoided that fate by breaking serve, Ostapenko was undeniable and deservedly secured victory with another perfect forehand winner to seal a love break.

Closing out the win, she said: “I just thought I had to play until the very last point.

“When I had a 5-0 lead he missed him more, but I thought I was playing better and not giving him a chance. »

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