Novak Djokovic survives Aussie scare at Wimbledon as Iga Swiatek caught up in ugly scenes

Swiatek crashed out as Djokovic ended the hopes of Aussie star Alexei Popyrin.

Iga Swiatek found herself at the centre of unsavoury scenes at Wimbledon after being booed by fans during her shock third round defeat to Yulia Putintseva. The ugly incident came on a dramatic day at the All England Club, where Novak Djokovic ended the dream run of Alexei Popyrin, to leave Alex de Minaur as the last Aussie standing in the Wimbledon singles draw.

Swiatek's 3-6 6-1 6-2 defeat came on a rain-interrupted day where another one of the women's favourites, Ons Jabeur, also suffered a shock loss. Last year's finalist went down 6-1 7-6 (7-4) to Ukraine's Elina Svitolina. For Swiatek though, it represents yet another disappointing showing on her least favourite surface of grass.

Novak Djokovic won his third round match at Wimbledon as fans turned on Iga Swiatek during her shock loss. Pic: Getty
Novak Djokovic won his third round match at Wimbledon as fans turned on Iga Swiatek during her shock loss. Pic: Getty

This is now the third year in a row that Swiatek has won the French Open title, only to bow out early a month later at the All England Club. Swiatek's fourth French Open crown was her fifth career major but she's been unable to replicate her clay court dominance on grass. And to make matters worse for the World No.1, she was booed by fans and accused of an unsporting act against Putintseva, after taking an extended bathroom break in the middle of the match.

Swiatek looked out of sorts after losing the second set to Putintseva, before feeling the wrath of spectators at the the No.1 Court when she returned from a lengthy toilet break. “I was kind of getting bored,” Putintseva said after being kept waiting on court.

Swiatek confirmed to reporters after the match that she was suffering from fatigue, before going on to explain her continued struggles on grass. “I felt like my energy level went down little bit in the second set. I couldn’t really get back up,” she said.

“My tank of really pushing myself to the limits became suddenly empty. I was kind of surprised. But I know what I did wrong after Roland Garros. I didn’t really rest properly. I’m not going to make this mistake again. After such a tough clay court season, I really must have my recovery... For me 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.”

In the men's draw, Djokovic kept his quest for a record 25th grand slam singles title alive after coming from a set down to beat Popyrin, 4-6 6-3 6-4 7-6 (7-3). Popyrin's loss means de Minaur is the last Aussie singles survivor at Wimbledon after being given a free passage into the fourth round when French opponent Lucas Pouille withdrew from their third round clash with injury. The 'Demon' faces another Frenchman Arthur Fils in the fourth round after he defeated Roman Safiullin in five sets.

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Popyrin was briefly dreaming of joining his compatriot after stunning Djokovic to take the opening set against the seven-time Wimbledon champion on Centre Court. But as rain loomed and the roof was closed, Djokovic stepped up his game to dash the Aussie's hopes and brush aside the concerns around his knee after recent surgery.

Novak Djokovic came from a set down to beat Aussie Alexei Popyrin in their Wimbledon third round match. Pic: Getty
Novak Djokovic came from a set down to beat Aussie Alexei Popyrin in their Wimbledon third round match. Pic: Getty

Djokovic changed his approach when the roof closed by attacking Popyrin's weaker backhand and finding a relentless length on his returns. But the 24-time major winner hailed his Aussie opponent after the victory and admitted he was relieved to get past a difficult opponent.

"A very tough match, and I didn't expect anything less. I knew he was going to be coming with a lot of self-belief," Djokovic said. "He was the better player in the first set, I stepped it up, played a really good second a third, and the fourth was anybody's. It was a very challenging match, mentally, to just hang in there."

with AAP