No. 1 Iga Swiatek Loses in Wimbledon's Third Round to Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan

 Iga Swiatek of Poland reacts during her third round loss to Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan at the Wimbledon tennis championships in London, Saturday, July 6, 2024. (AP)
Iga Swiatek of Poland reacts during her third round loss to Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan at the Wimbledon tennis championships in London, Saturday, July 6, 2024. (AP)
TT

No. 1 Iga Swiatek Loses in Wimbledon's Third Round to Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan

 Iga Swiatek of Poland reacts during her third round loss to Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan at the Wimbledon tennis championships in London, Saturday, July 6, 2024. (AP)
Iga Swiatek of Poland reacts during her third round loss to Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan at the Wimbledon tennis championships in London, Saturday, July 6, 2024. (AP)

After putting one shot into the net, Iga Swiatek muttered to herself. After another point went awry, she placed her hand over her mouth. Generally, she looked as flustered as she ever does on a tennis court.

Once again, she went from unbeatable on the French Open's red clay to underwhelming on Wimbledon's green grass.

The No. 1-ranked Swiatek's 21-match winning streak ended with a listless performance and a slew of mistakes on Saturday, adding up to a 3-6, 6-1, 6-2 loss to unseeded Yulia Putintseva in the third round at the All England Club.

“Going from this kind of tennis, where I felt like I’m playing the best tennis in my life, to another surface, where I kind of struggle a little bit more, it’s not easy,” said Swiatek, who only once has made it as far as the quarterfinals at Wimbledon, exiting at that stage a year ago. “All that stuff really combines to me not really having a good time in Wimbledon.”

Never does. In 2022, for example, her 37-match unbeaten run was stopped with another third-round loss at the All England Club, that one to Alize Cornet.

Swiatek, a 23-year-old from Poland, is a five-time Grand Slam champion, including four titles at Roland Garros — most recently last month — and one on the hard courts at the US Open. She has talked about looking forward to improving on grass, but she decided to withdraw last month from the only tuneup event that was originally on her schedule before Wimbledon.

Not that Swiatek thinks that was the issue against the 35th-ranked Putintseva.

On the contrary, Swiatek described herself as not giving herself enough of a chance to rest after the French Open.

“My tank of really pushing myself to the limits became, suddenly, empty,” she said. “I was kind of surprised.”

After a ho-hum first set, Swiatek faded against Putintseva, making mistake after mistake.

Swiatek not only won all four previous meetings against Putintseva, but also claimed every set they had played. Asked during a postmatch interview on No. 1 Court how she managed to emerge with the victory, the often-animated Putintseva replied: “I don’t know. Really, I don’t.”

Well, here is at least one key part of what happened: Swiatek looked very little like someone who has led the WTA rankings for nearly every week since April 2022 and is assured of remaining there no matter what happens the rest of the way at Wimbledon.

Still, this was her characterization of this week: “I felt like I underachieved a little bit. But it’s tennis, so you have to move on. I’ll have many more chances this year to show my game. I’ll just focus on that.”

Putintseva is on an eight-match run of her own, all on grass, including a title at Birmingham before arriving in London. This is the first time in 10 appearances at Wimbledon that the 29-year-old from Kazakhstan made it past the second round.

Her best showing at any Slam was getting to the quarterfinals at the French Open twice and US Open once.

“I was playing fearless. I was just: ‘I can do it. I have to believe 100%. I have nothing to lose. Just go for it,’” Putintseva said at her news conference. “Also, my coach told me, ‘No matter which shot you’re doing, believe 100%.’”

When she was building a 4-0 lead in the last set by grabbing 16 of its first 19 points, Putintseva only needed to produce two winners. Her other 14 points in that span were gained thanks to either unforced errors (seven) or forced errors (seven) off Swiatek’s racket.

By the end, Swiatek had accumulated 38 unforced errors, more than twice as many as her opponent's 15.

Next up for Putintseva is a matchup against 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko, who is seeded 13th. Also moving into the fourth round were 2022 Wimbledon champ Elena Rybakina, 2021 French Open winner Barbora Krejcikova, No. 17 Anna Kalinskaya, No. 21 Elina Svitolina and unseeded Wang Xinyu.

Svitolina advanced with a 6-1, 7-6 (4) victory over No. 10 Ons Jabeur, a three-time Grand Slam runner-up, including at Wimbledon each of the past two years.

Among the men’s winners were No. 4 Alexander Zverev, whose left knee was treated by a trainer after a second-set tumble while eliminating Cam Norrie 6-4, 6-4, 7-6 (15), along with 2021 US Open champ Daniil Medvedev, No. 9 Alex de Minaur, No. 14 Ben Shelton, No. 16 Ugo Humbert, Arthur Fils, Giovanni Mpetshi Perricard and Roberto Bautista Agut.

Shelton’s 6-7 (4), 6-2, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 victory over Denis Shapovalov in a meeting between two big-serving left-handers was the 21-year-old American’s third consecutive five-set win, the first player to do that at Wimbledon since Ernests Gulbis in 2018.

No man in the Open era (which dates to 1968) has ever won four matches in a row in five sets at any major tournament.

Shelton was a semifinalist at last year's US Open and is coached by his father, Bryan, who got to the fourth round at Wimbledon as a player in 1994.

“We’re back, big dog!” Ben shouted over to Dad afterward.

Shelton’s opponent Sunday is No. 1 Jannik Sinner.

There already have been 33 five-set matches through one week of play, the most ever at any Slam in the Open era. The most for an entire tournament in that span is 35.



Paris Police Sealing Off Seine River Ahead of Olympics Opening Ceremony

People carry their bikes up a staircase to get around a security area closed off for the 2024 Summer Olympics, Thursday, July 18, 2024, in Paris. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
People carry their bikes up a staircase to get around a security area closed off for the 2024 Summer Olympics, Thursday, July 18, 2024, in Paris. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
TT

Paris Police Sealing Off Seine River Ahead of Olympics Opening Ceremony

People carry their bikes up a staircase to get around a security area closed off for the 2024 Summer Olympics, Thursday, July 18, 2024, in Paris. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
People carry their bikes up a staircase to get around a security area closed off for the 2024 Summer Olympics, Thursday, July 18, 2024, in Paris. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

A special kind of iron curtain came down across central Paris on Thursday, with the beginning of an Olympic anti-terrorism perimeter along the banks of the River Seine sealing off a kilometers-long area to Parisians and tourists who hadn’t applied in advance for a pass.
The words on many lips were “QR code,” the pass that grants access beyond snaking metal barriers that delineate the security zone set up to protect the Olympic Games’ opening ceremony on July 26.
“I didn’t know it started today,” said Emmanuelle Witt, a 35-year-old communications freelancer who was stopped by police near the Alma bridge while biking across town. She desperately went on her phone to fill out the online form to get her QR code, unaware that the vetting process could take several days, The Associated Press reported.
Those with the precious code – either on their phones or printed out on pieces of paper – passed smoothly past police checkpoints at gaps in the barriers taller than most people.
Those without got mostly turned away – with no amount of grumbling and cajoling making officers budge.
“That’s too much, that’s over the top, that whole thing is a pain,” grumbled Nassim Bennamou, a delivery man who was denied access to the street leading to Notre Dame Cathedral on his scooter.
“Even the GPS is confused, I have no idea how I’m going to work today,” he added.
While authorities announced the code system last year and have been meeting with local residents for months to explain the restrictions, not everyone was aware. Officers patiently explained to visitors without the pass how to reach iconic Paris monuments without going through the restricted zone.
“We had no idea we needed a QR code,” said Takao Sakamoto, 55, who was denied access to the Eiffel Tower near the Bir Hakeim Metro station. Visiting from Japan with his wife, he took a photo of the tower from a distance, behind fences and police cars. “That will do,” Sakamoto remarked with despair.
On the other hand, visitors who were lucky enough to come across officers who leniently let them pass without QR codes and others who'd equipped themselves with them were treated to the sight of near-empty riverside boulevards that, in normal times, heave with traffic.
“There's no one around!” sang a happy cyclist on a street he had largely to himself. With police seemingly everywhere, another man walking past a riverside café with fewer than usual customers loudly quipped: “You can leave your money and cell phones on the tables, there's definitely no thieves!”
“It’s surreal, it really feels like we’re the only ones here,” said Sarah Bartnicka from Canada. Enjoying a morning jog with a friend, the 29-year-old took a selfie with a police officer on the deserted Iéna bridge to capture the moment.
Paris has repeatedly suffered deadly extremist attacks, most notably in 2015. Up to 45,000 police and gendarmes as well as 10,000 soldiers are being deployed for Olympic security.
“I understand why they’re doing this,” said Carla Money, a 64-year-old American who managed to pass the barriers with her family.
Some business owners inside the security zone grumbled that sharply reduced foot-fall would hurt their bottom line.
“They’ve locked me up like a prisoner," said Raymond Pignol. His restaurant, L'Auberge Café, near the Pont Neuf that spans the Seine, is just inside the metal fencing.
The perimeter went into effect early Thursday morning and will last through the ceremony. As an exception, Paris has decided to hold the opening of its first Games in a century on the river rather than in a stadium, like previous host cities. Most of the river security measures will be lifted after the show.
Officers were under instructions to be polite and patient as employees on their way to work and others dealt with the perimeter and the passes for the first time. But Paris police chief Laurent Nunez said that after the initial 24 hours of being accommodating, officers would apply the rules much more firmly, with no more looking the other way for those without QR codes.