Top seed Iga Swiatek crashed out of the fourth round of the Australian Open on Sunday, with title threat Coco Goff also on a tear, as a pair of underrated Grand Slam champions opened the women’s draw.
Third seed Stefanos Tsitsipas avoided a similar fate on the men’s side later in the day, raising his level and keeping his dreams alive when needed to claim a thrilling win over Italian Janek Sner. The first Grand Slam title is alive.
“It was a long match. I feel like I’ve had a century on this court,” Tsippas said of the match, which lasted just over four hours. “It was a ripper, as they say here. I can feel my face burning from the effort today.”
World number one Svetek was sent packing by Elena Rybakina in her opening match at Rod Laver Arena, the Pole falling 6-4 6-4 to the Kazakh Wimbledon winner who opened her tournament on Court 13’s Melbourne Park jungle.
Rybakina shrugged off the scheduling snub ahead of the fourth-round showdown but used it as fuel in her first appearance on Center Court as a sore Svitek slowly opened up.
“I felt the pressure, and I felt that I’d rather lose than win,” said Switek, who dominated last season with two Grand Slams.
“I felt like I took a step back in terms of how I approach these tournaments, and I probably want it a little bit harder.”
The result means this year’s Australian Open will be the first Grand Slam tournament in the Open era where the top two seeds in the men’s and women’s singles draws have lost before the quarter-finals.
22nd seed Rybakina could have faced Goff in the quarter-finals but the young American was defeated by Jelena Ostapenko, the forgotten Grand Slam winner of women’s tennis, 7-5 6-3.
The 2017 French Open champion fired 30 winners past Goff at Margaret Court Arena, his last two sealing the match in a manner that left the 18-year-old in tears at the post-match media conference. .
“I think it was rough,” Goff told reporters before breaking down with emotion. “When you play a player like her and she plays really well, it’s like, you know, you’ve got nothing.”
The win secured a first Australian Open quarter-final for the hard-hitting Ostapenko, as well as her first win at a Grand Slam since reaching the semi-finals at Wimbledon in 2018.
Latvia’s first – and only – Grand Slam champion stunned the world when she lifted the trophy at Roland Garros as an unseeded 20-year-old.
She has spent most of the lean years since then but never doubted that she would be back in the spotlight.
“My life changed a lot (after the 2017 French Open), so it took me a few years to get used to what happened because I was really young,” she said.
“I always knew my game and believed in it. If I play well, I can beat almost anyone.”
In a tournament that quickly ended with star power, unheralded Czech Jiri Lehka suffered another blow to the low lights when he saw off Canadian sixth seed Felix Auger-Ilyasim 4-6 6-3 7-6(2) 7. Defeated by -6(3). Men’s tournament
The 21-year-old next plays Tsitsipas, who looks to avenge last year’s loss to the Greek in the Rotterdam semi-finals.
“He will know what my strengths are. He will feel that I can put him under pressure,” Lahika said.
While Lehka was a bolt from the blue, big things have been expected of Sebastian Korda for some time now and the young American is finally living up to expectations at Melbourne Park.
He took another step towards emulating his Australian Open-winning father Peter by booking his first Grand Slam quarter-final, beating Hubert 3-6 6-3 6-2 1-6 7-6 (10-7). defeated by Everything at Rod Laver Arena.
Korda, whose father won the 1998 title under the Czech flag, showed impressive courage as Polish 10th seed Herkaz won four straight points to level the fifth-set tiebreak at 7-7.
Korda held firm, finishing with a backhand winner to set up a clash with 18th seed Karen Khachanov of Russia.
“It feels great. I wasn’t feeling much energy towards the fourth and fifth sets but you guys picked me up,” the 29th seed told the crowd.
Khachanov had an easy road to defeat Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka 6-0 6-0 7-6 (4) at the John Kane Arena.
The Russian has now reached the quarterfinals of all four Grand Slams.
“Obviously, yeah, it kind of compliments what I’ve achieved so far, and I’m happy to do it. Hopefully I can go on to bigger things.” ” They said.
While the top seeds have fallen, American Jessica Pegula has proved strong, advancing to her third consecutive quarter-final with a 7-5 6-2 win over Czech 20th seed Barbora Krejcikova at Melbourne Park.
Third-seeded Pegula will face either Victoria Azarenka or China’s Zhou Lin for a place in the semifinals.