NEW YORK -- No.20 Jelena Ostapenko continued her mastery over Iga Swiatek, ending the World No.1's US Open title defense with a 3-6, 6-3, 6-1 victory in the fourth round. The 26-year-old Latvian is now 4-0 in her career against Swiatek, and is the only player to have faced the Pole multiple times at tour level without taking a loss.
The victory means World No.2 Aryna Sabalenka will overtake Swiatek and ascend to the No.1 ranking after the US Open. Swiatek will have held the top spot for 75 consecutive weeks, the third-longest first-time streak in Hologic WTA Tour history.
Sabalenka, 25, will be the 29th woman to capture the WTA World No.1 ranking, and just the eighth player to have held both the singles and doubles No.1 spots during their career, having also ascended to the top of the doubles rankings in February 2021.
Into her first US Open quarterfinal, Ostapenko champion will next face No.6 Coco Gauff next. The two have split their two prior meetings, with Ostapenko knocking the American out of the Australian Open in January.
Match notes: Swiatek went into Sunday night having won just one set in three meetings against the big-hitting Latvian. Ostapenko's game, based on audacious hitting that can run hot and cold, had historically overpowered her. But this was their first meeting since Swiatek's rise to No.1 last year.
Prior to the match, Swiatek was confident that her evolution since then, particularly on hard courts, could flip the script.
"With Jelena, it's a little bit like one day she can play a perfect match and just put everything in even though she's really risking, and the other day can be different," Swiatek said ahead of the match. "You never know what to expect.
"But I kind of accept that all these players they are going to play the best tennis against me."
This one is already good on Ashe! pic.twitter.com/wsPgg3HkYJ— US Open Tennis (@usopen) September 4, 2023
How the match was won: The match began with an exchange of breaks before settling down into their much-anticipated baseline tug-o-war. With Ostapenko serving down 3-2, 30-all, Swiatek out-gunned her from the baseline, eliciting oohs and ahhs from the crowd, to earn her a break point chance. Ostapenko snuffed it out but Swiatek made good on a second chance, firing a flat cross-court passing shot for a 4-2 lead.
Serving to close out the set at 5-3, Swiatek watched helplessly as Ostapenko rifled her 11th and 12th winners for a 15-30 lead. But a missed return and serendipitous netcord winner later and Swiatek had a set point. She converted on another missed return -- Ostapenko landed just 57 percent -- to close out the 39-minute opener.
"She's a great player and she's very, very consistent, especially last few years," Ostapenko said. "I also knew she would have all the pressure because she's obviously No.1. I was just trying to make it hard for her and to play my game and to fight until the very last point."
1 - Claiming comeback victory in the R16, Jelena Ostapenko is the first player in 2023 to defeat Iga Swiatek after losing the opening set. Swiatek's record after taking the opening set at WTA events this year is now 50-1. Zone.#USOpen #USOpen2023 | @usopen @WTA @WTA_insider pic.twitter.com/O6WNaZewdi— OptaAce (@OptaAce) September 4, 2023
Turning point: Ostapenko responded immediately, breaking Swiatek in her opening service game by saving two game points and consolidating for a quick 3-0 lead. Swiatek got on the board after Ostapenko pushed her first drop shot attempt of the night into the net, but Ostapenko had settled into a comfortable rhythm on her service games and had now doubled up on Swiatek in the winners column.
As she sat for a 4-1 lead, Ostapenko had fired 10 winners in the set to Swiatek's one. More importantly, she limited her errors, hitting just five to Swiatek's three.
Serving to take the match into a third set, Ostapenko fended off a break point with a good kicking second serve that elicited a wide return. With that, the match went into a decider after a brisk 80 minutes of play.
Having now found the perfect balance of disciplined offense, Ostapenko broke Swiatek in the opening game and consolidated for a 2-0 lead. Swiatek's forehand began to leak more errors and the Latvian could sense the occasion. Only Anastasia Potapova had played more three-set matches this season than Ostapenko, who carried a 15-8 record in deciders into the match.
"There were some key moments in the second set," Ostapenko said. "When I won it, especially the first game in the third set when I broke her, I felt like it's going more my way. I started to feel my game better.
"I put her under the pressure, of course, because I was hitting quite many winners, and she didn't like the power I was giving her because she needed some time to play."
With a flurry of offense, Ostapenko broke again for double-break lead at 3-0. It was a lead she would protect with ease as she closed out the win after 1 hour and 48 minutes.
"I'm just surprised that my level changed so drastically because usually when I play bad, I play bad at the beginning, then I kind of catch up or just problem solve," Swiatek said. "This time it was totally the opposite.
"I don't really know what happened with my game. I felt no control suddenly. I just have to watch and see because, yeah, I didn't really know why I started making so many mistakes."
Ostapenko finished the match with 31 winners to 20 unforced errors. Swiatek hit 18 winners to 18 unforced errors. To earn her second career win over a reigning No.1, Ostapenko broke Swiatek seven times.
Stats of the match: Ostapenko's victory snapped Swiatek's 33-match win streak when she won the first set at a Slam.
The result was also a full-circle moment. Ostapenko had been the last player to defeat Swiatek before the latter's 37-match winning streak in 2022 and her rise to World No.1. She has now become the player to end Swiatek's reign at the top.
The victory means that Ostapenko has reached at least the quarterfinals of each Grand Slam. She was the second player to accomplish that feat on Sunday, following Karolina Muchova.
Ostapenko is the second player representing Latvia to make the last eight of the US Open, following Anastasija Sevastova (2018 semifinalist, 2016-17 quarterfinalist). Larisa Neiland also made the 1988 quarterfinals representing the USSR; she would go on to compete for Latvia in the 1990s.