No. 1 Iga Swiatek loses in Wimbledon's third round to Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan

LONDON (AP) — No. 1-ranked Iga Swiatek again faltered at Wimbledon, losing in the third round to Yulia Putintseva 3-6, 6-1, 6-2 on Saturday.

The result ended a 21-match winning streak for Swiatek. She is a five-time Grand Slam champion, including four titles on the red clay at the French Open — most recently last month — and one on the hard courts at the U.S. Open.

The All England Club's grass has always given her the most trouble as a pro at any major tournament, although the 23-year-old from Poland did win the junior trophy as a teenager.

Swiatek has only once been as far as the quarterfinals at Wimbledon; that was last year, when she lost at that stage. In 2022, her 37-match unbeaten run ended with a third-round loss to Alize Cornet at the All England Club.

Swiatek 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.

The 35th-ranked Putintseva now has an eight-match run of her own, all on grass, including a title at Birmingham before arriving in London. Still, 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 U.S. Open once.

This result also was unexpected because 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.

She kept making mistakes, particularly over the last two sets, when Putintseva did not even try to put balls away and instead was happy to allow Swiatek to help her.

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

After one miss into the net, 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 during a match. By the end, she 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 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 U.S. 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 Fulbis 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 U.S. 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.

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AP tennis: https://apnews.com/hub/tennis