World No.1 Iga Światek has left tennis fans gobsmacked after recovering from the brink of defeat against Belinda Bencic to seal an extraordinary come-from-behind victory and her place in the Wimbledon quarter-finals.
The Pole saved two match points before clinching a breathless 6-7 (4/7), 7-6 (7/2) win on Centre Court that sets up a date with Elina Svitolina in the last-16.
The reigning US Open and French Open champion looked set for a shock straight-sets exit to the Olympic Games gold medallist when she found herself down 40-15 in the 12th game of the second set.
However, Swiatek picked the best time to produce two stunning winners and her best tennis of the contest to turn the match on its head.
Świątek served out to force the second set into a tiebreak before showing her class to level the match at a set apiece. From there, the 22-year-old would not be stopped as she rode a wave of momentum to clinch an epic three-hour victory in a never-say-die performance that sent fans into raptures on social media.
Iga for more.
— Wimbledon (@Wimbledon) July 9, 2023
Iga Swiatek won this match pic.twitter.com/Be4hrJxbpc
— Out of Context Iga Świątek (@SwiatekOOC) July 9, 2023
Oh my heart! @iga_swiatek I love you so much and we are so incredibly proud of your fight and will power today 💥 🙏💕.
— Tina (@Tina11201986) July 9, 2023
Wow, two absolutely terrific matches happening almost simultaneously! Swiatek shows grit and the number 1 winning mentality over a Bencic who hasn’t played much. Svitolina that bit more clutch but very poor show by the crowd to boo Azarenka. She was brilliant too. #Wimbledon
— Kvittycat (@kvittycat53) July 9, 2023
The top seed had reached the fourth-round without dropping a set but experienced trouble early on against Bencic, being forced to take a medical time-out after only three games due to a blister. Swiatek, who played two tiebreaks in the same match for the first time, said in her on-court interview: “She had match point right? So, I don’t know if that ever happened in my career, being back from match point down, but I am really happy.”
Iga Swiatek to face Elina Svitolina in last-16
Swiatek’s triumph sets up a quarter-final date with Svitolina after the Ukrainian defeated Belarusian Victoria Azarenka in what was another thrilling fourth round match. Azarenka was booed off Court One after the nail-biting 2-6 6-4 7-6 (11/9) defeat, having respected Svitolina’s stance on not shaking hands with players from Belarus or Russia, due to the war in Ukraine.
Tennis fans labelled the crowd scenes “embarrassing” and “disgraceful”, with both players also hitting out at the unsavoury aftermath to the match. Ukraine’s Svitolina called on officials to explain the situation to fans to avoid such nasty post-match scenes in the future.
“I think the tennis organisations, they have to come out with a statement that there will be no handshake between Russian, Belarusian, and Ukrainian players,” she said. “I already said multiple times that, until Russian troops are out of Ukraine and we take back our territories, I’m not going to shake hands. I don’t know how more clear I can be.”