Jelena Ostapenko still has Iga Swiatek’s number, as the Latvian ousted the defending US Open champion and world No. 1 in a three-set thriller on Sunday. Ostapenko improved to 4-0 against the Polish star, who had not dropped a set before the match. The 2017 French Open champion showed her big-hitting style and fearless attitude, as she fired 28 winners and seven aces to win 3-6, 6-3, 6-1.
Ostapenko said she was happy with her performance and confident in her game plan. “I think I played really well today. I was just trying to play aggressive and go for my shots,” she said in her on-court interview. “I know she’s a great player and I have a lot of respect for her, but I knew I had to play my best tennis to beat her.”
A slow start and a comeback
The match started with Swiatek in control, as she broke Ostapenko twice in the first set and held her own serve comfortably. The Pole looked poised to extend her winning streak at Flushing Meadows, where she had not lost since 2019. However, Ostapenko did not give up and started to find her range in the second set. She broke Swiatek three times and saved four break points on her own serve to level the match.
The momentum shifted completely in Ostapenko’s favor in the final set, as she dominated Swiatek from the baseline and kept her under constant pressure. The Latvian broke Swiatek three times in a row and won 12 of the last 15 games to seal the victory. Swiatek only managed to win eight points in the third set and looked frustrated by Ostapenko’s power and accuracy.
A historic win and a tough challenge
Ostapenko became the first player to beat Swiatek at a Grand Slam since Sofia Kenin at the 2020 Australian Open. She also reached her first US Open quarterfinal and matched her best result at a major since Roland Garros 2018. Ostapenko said she was proud of her achievement and excited for the next round.
“It feels amazing. It’s my first quarterfinal here and I’m really happy about that,” she said. “I love playing here. The crowd is amazing and they support me a lot.”
Ostapenko will face another tough opponent in the quarterfinals, as she will take on second seed Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus. Sabalenka defeated Daria Kasatkina of Russia in straight sets to reach her second consecutive Grand Slam quarterfinal. Sabalenka leads the head-to-head against Ostapenko 2-1, but they have not played since 2018.
Ostapenko said she was looking forward to the challenge and hoped to continue her impressive run. “She’s a great player and she’s playing really well this year,” she said of Sabalenka. “But I’m feeling good and I’m playing well, so I’m just going to try to enjoy it and do my best.”