Australian Open: Iga Swiatek, Coco Gauff ousted in fourth round

Elena Rybakina

Getty

Top-ranked Iga Swiatek was eliminated from the Australian Open by Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina in the fourth round, busting open the women’s draw.

Rybakina, the 22nd seed who would be in the top 10 if the WTA counted 2022 Wimbledon ranking points, took out Swiatek, who won the French Open and U.S. Open last year, 6-4, 6-4 to become the first quarterfinalist in Melbourne.

“When you play against No. 1, I think you have really nothing to lose,” said Rybakina, who was playing on one of the two main show courts for the first time this tournament. “So I was trying to just attack her from the first ball, and it really worked well.”

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AUSTRALIAN OPEN DRAWS: Women | Men

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The Nos. 1 and 2 seeds in the men’s and women’s draws were all eliminated before the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam for the first time in the Open Era, according to the International Tennis Federation.

“I need to work on my, I don’t know, kind of mindset and fight a little bit more as I did last season,” Swiatek said. “I’m going to take time right now to kind of reset.

“I maybe wanted it a little bit too hard. So I’m going to try to chill out a little bit more. … I felt the pressure, and I felt that I don’t want to lose instead of I want to win.”

Last July, Rybakina became the second-lowest-ranked woman to win Wimbledon at No. 23 in the world. She was born and raised in Moscow but in 2018 switched nationality to Kazakhstan, which offered more financial support of her tennis career.

Wimbledon banned Russians and Belarusians from playing last year due to the war in Ukraine. The WTA and ATP responded by stripping the event of its ranking points.

Rybakina next gets No. 17 Jelena Ostapenko, the 2017 French Open champion from Latvia who beat No. 7 Coco Gauff 7-5, 6-3.

“There was moments in the match where I was getting frustrated because I normally can problem-solve, but today I feel like I didn’t have much answers to what she was doing,” said Gauff, who had more winners (21) than unforced errors (14) but was one for eight on break points, while Ostapenko converted all three of hers.

No. 3 Jessica Pegula, who beat No. 20 Barbora Krejcikova 7-5, 6-2 later Sunday, is now the highest women’s seed left and the lone American woman left.

“It’s weird being a favorite,” said Pegula, who goes into her fifth major quarterfinal looking to get into her first semifinal. “I don’t really feel like a favorite because I’m going against people that have had more success than me.

“I’ve been playing the best I have than in any of my other Grand Slam quarterfinals.”

Pegula, who hasn’t dropped a set in four matches, is looking to end the longest U.S. women’s singles major title drought this century (since Sofia Kenin won the 2020 Australian Open) and longest U.S. men’s and women’s singles major drought in the Open Era (since 1968).

In the men’s draw, American Sebastian Korda began the day as the third favorite to win the title, according to PointsBet Sportsbook, despite being the 11th-highest ranked man of the 16 left.

Korda, whose dad, Petr, won the Australian Open 25 years ago and turns 55 on Monday, then reached his first major quarterfinal by taking out Poland’s 10th seed Hubert Hurkacz 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 1-6, 7-6 (7).

“When I go in the shower, I’ll yell a little bit,” to celebrate, he said. “That’s about it.”

Korda, seeded 29th, gets another higher seed, No. 18 Karen Khachanov of Russia, who swept Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka 6-0, 6-0, 7-6 (4).

The other quarterfinal in the top half pits the top remaining seed, No. 3 Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece, against 71st-ranked Czech Jiri Lehecka, who upset No. 6 Felix Auger-Aliassime.

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