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Swiatek advances at Wimbledon and says pressure is off; Sabalenka wins, Jabeur talks Beckham

Iga Swiatek Iga Swiatek - The Canadian Press

WIMBLEDON, England (AP) — An avid reader, Iga Swiatek knows how to contextualize her Wimbledon experiences.

Her third-round exit last year after winning the French Open was a disappointment. The top-ranked Swiatek cleared that hurdle Friday at the All England Club, dispatching 30th-seeded Petra Martic 6-2, 7-5 to reach the fourth round.

“It’s just a totally different chapter,” the 22-year-old Pole said.

The four-time Grand Slam champion can reach her first Wimbledon quarterfinal when she faces 14th-seeded Belinda Bencic on Sunday.

Swiatek has said she felt a lot of pressure last year from high expectations and the 35-match winning streak she carried into Wimbledon.

“I do feel more relaxed. I think also because I won Roland Garros and I feel like after that the pressure is a little bit off because I reached my goal kind of for the season,” she said. “I don’t have to think about anything else other than playing. ... I feel like I have more kind of, I don’t know, free space in my head to develop my game and to work on my skills on grass."

Unlike the men's side, where seven-time winner Novak Djokovic is a heavy favorite, the women's field is tougher to handicap.

The top three seeds — Swiatek, Aryna Sabalenka and defending champion Elena Rybakina — are showing signs of becoming a “ Big Three.”

Sabalenka, the Australian Open champion who was a Wimbledon semifinalist in 2021, advanced to the third round with a 2-6, 7-5, 6-2 win over Varvara Gracheva.

Madison Keys, who beat Viktorija Golubic 7-5, 6-3 to reach the third round, said the “Big Three” title is deserved.

“They are obviously at the top of the game right now, so I think it’s a great term to describe the three of them,” said the American, who is seeded 25th.

After the top three seeds, there's No. 4 Jessica Pegula, who advanced to the fourth round with a 6-4, 6-0 victory over Elisabetta Cocciaretto.

Caroline Garcia of France became the highest-seeded woman to exit. The fifth-seeded player lost 7-6 (0), 4-6, 7-5 to 32nd-seeded Marie Bouzkova in the third round.


Ons Jabeur, the No. 6 seed and runner-up to Rybakina a year ago, needed only 45 minutes to get past Bai Zhuoxuan of China 6-1, 6-1 to reach the third round.

The Tunisian player was pleased with the win, of course, but also happy to talk about meeting David Beckham two days earlier.

“Oh, amazing. Such an amazing person,” said Jabeur, a big soccer fan and a former player herself. “I was really looking forward to meet him. We talked about football, about his daughter, tennis in general. Him maybe watching a couple matches in U.S. So let’s see.”


AP tennis: and