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Iga Swiatek Falls at Wimbledon, Ending a Long Win Streak

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WIMBLEDON, England — Iga Swiatek, the world No. 1 and the highest seed at Wimbledon, did something she had not done in greater than 4 months Saturday. She lost a tennis match.

Swiatek, the 21-year-old two-time Grand Slam champion from Poland, lost within the third round to Alizé Cornet, the veteran Frenchwoman, 6-4, 6-2, ending her winning streak at 37 matches, one in every of the longest in modern women’s tennis.

Swiatek, though, didn’t lose the match a lot as Cornet won it, emphatically even.

Fidgeting with strapping on her left thigh, Cornet got here out swinging hard, matching Swiatek’s power and making the most of the Polish champion’s discomfort on grass.

After losing the primary set, Swiatek looked as if it would right things quickly, and surged to a 2-0 lead. But Cornet reeled off six straight games with Swiatek losing the ultimate point with a forehand into the center of the online.

Swiatek shook hands together with her opponent, quickly stowed her rackets and headed for the exit of the No. 1 court, where she had been pushed to a few sets by a relative unknown only two days earlier.

She waved and gave a thumbs as much as the gang as she walked, then stopped to sign a series of autographs before leaving.

The result had a well-known feel for Cornet. In 2014 she beat Serena Williams, then the world No. 1 and the highest seed on the tournament, on the identical No. 1 court.

That was relatively early in her profession, though. Eight years later, in only 93 minutes, she pulled off one other monumental upset and made the second week of a Grand Slam for the second time this yr. Then, fittingly, she compared herself to a different French favorite.

“Like good wine,” she told the gang. “It ages well.”

The afternoon was really about Swiatek, though.

Anyone who has ever picked up a racket knows probably the most basic adage of the sport — it is difficult to win a tennis match but incredibly easy to lose one. A couple of errant shots, a foul quarter-hour of serving, the briefest lapses of concentration, and one set after which one other slips away in what appears like minutes. Hopelessness sets in, and getting off the court as quickly as possible can feel like the very best and only alternative, despite the fact that it isn’t.

Hopelessness, nevertheless, was not what led to Swiatek’s demise Saturday. It was Cornet. A fearless opponent could be just as fatal.

That’s just a part of what made Swiatek’s accomplishments in the course of the first half of this yr, in an era of ladies’s tennis when the competition is intense from the primary round of nearly every tournament, so remarkable.

Swiatek lost to Jelena Ostapenko, the free-swinging Latvian, on Feb. 16 within the quarterfinals of the Dubai Tennis Championships. Since then she has won six consecutive singles titles, including her second French Open. She won three tournaments on the Masters 1,000 level, just under the Grand Slams.

In March and April she won the so-called Sunshine Double — the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells, Calif., and the Miami Open. Only three other women had done that before. On the French Open, she lost only one set. Other players talked about just attempting to get past the one-hour mark on the court together with her. Many failed.

Swiatek, though, at all times figured the grass court season might spell the tip of her streak. She is most comfortable taking balls on the rise and using her topspin and her power to place opponents on the back foot from the very first moments of the match.

After she won the French Open in early June, she faced the alternative of playing a warm-up tournament or two to get more comfortable on her least favorite surface or taking a break and arriving at Wimbledon feeling refreshed. She selected to rest and hoped that her cresting confidence would help her solve the puzzle of grass. It didn’t.

In practice, her timing was off. In matches, balls skidded along the grass as a substitute of bouncing into her strike zone, taking her most potent weapon, that topspin power, out of her quiver, forcing her to play more conservatively.

On Saturday afternoon, she reverted to Plan A, attempting to hit Cornet off the court. Unable to regulate the ball, she dropped the primary three games against a player who truly believed she could do the thing that had not been done in an extended while.

Swiatek rallied her way onto the scoreboard, but Cornet never gave up the advantage and finished off the primary set with an emphatic overhead. She then left the court before the beginning of the second set, leaving Swiatek to sit down in her chair and ponder her fate.

Within the second set, Swiatek went back to Plan A and surged to a 2-0 lead, but before long she had fallen out of her groove over again. On break point within the fifth game, Cornet jumped on a second serve and laced a forehand down the road. Swiatek dropped her chin and walked to her chair for the changeover.

From there, the one query was whether Cornet could stay solid enough to get across the finish line. The reply got here quickly.

“Normally once I’m coming back, I actually have some form of a plan, and I do know what to alter,” Swiatek said. “Here I didn’t know. I used to be confused. On grass courts every little thing happens so quickly.”

Cornet won the following three games and 12 of the ultimate 14 points.

“I didn’t tank it, but I just didn’t know what to do,” Swiatek said.

Swiatek will get a bit more rest now. Before long, though, she is going to journey to North America for the hard court season. Clay still reigns in her mind, but after she won the Miami Open in April, two weeks after winning Indian Wells, she said hard courts were a really very close second.

One other streak could possibly be within the offing. Few can be surprised. And if not, she is going to at all times have 37.

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