Jelena Ostapenko takes out Iga Swiatek in full-circle moment to hand Aryna Sabalenka world No 1 ranking

Shahida Jacobs
Celebrations from Jelena Ostapenko
A delighted Jelena Ostapenko

Jelena Ostapenko has always had the ability to take out a big-name player at any given time and while casual tennis followers might be stunned by her win over defending champion Iga Swiatek at the US Open, those who follow her regularly will not be surprised.

It was always going to be a big test for Swiatek as she had lost her previous three encounters against the 2017 French Open champion, but it went according to plan for the world No 1 early on as she won the opening set.

However, the Latvian hit back with a vengeance and ran away with it in the end as she secured a 3-6, 6-3, 6-1 victory to set up a quarter-final clash against Coco Gauff.

It was Ostapenko’s first win over a world No 1 as her previous three victories over the Pole were before she rose to No 1 in the rankings.

In fact, it was a full-circle moment as Ostapenko was the last player to defeat Swiatek before she took over from Ashleigh Barty at the top of the rankings as she beat her in the round of 16 in Dubai 2022. Her win on Sunday will bring an end to the Pole’s reign at No 1 as the four-time Grand Slam winner’s loss means Aryna Sabalenka will be crowned the new world No 1 after the US Open.

For Ostapenko, it keeps her hopes of winning a second major alive with her first-ever third-round win at Flushing Meadows.

She got off to a blistering start during the late match on Arthur Ashe Stadium with a break in the opening game of the match, but Swiatek pegged her back immediately and then broke again in game six.

Ostapenko then raced into a 4-1 lead with another early break only for Swiatek to get back on serve in game seven. However, this time the Latvian hit back in the next game and served out the set.

Swiatek is known for her bagels, but at one point it looked like Ostapenko would win the final set 6-0 as she broke thrice to lead 5-0. The Pole finally got on the scoreboard by claiming one break back, but the damage was already done and the 20th seed got the job done in one hour and 48 minutes.

“I always expect a tough battle against Iga,” Ostapenko said after the match.

“She’s won many Slams and she plays very consistent. I just went on court and I had to play aggressive because that’s what she doesn’t really like. In the third set, I stepped more in the court and I was serving better.”

Up next is an enticing encounter against the in-form Coco Gauff, who ended Caroline Wozniacki’s run.

READ MORE: Women who have spent most weeks at No 1 in WTA Rankings: Steffi Graf’s record safe, Iga Swiatek moves up