Top seed Iga Swiatek and a tearful Coco Gauff both crashed out in straight sets in the round-of-16 yesterday on another day of shocks at the Australian Open, while Taiwan’s Chan Hao-ching advanced to the third round of the women’s doubles.
Swiatek’s defeat to Elena Rybakina makes it the first Grand Slam in the Open era — since 1968 — to lose the top two seeds in the men’s and women’s draws before the quarter-finals.
There was no such trouble for Jessica Pegula, as the American third seed surged into the last eight with a 7-5, 6-2 win over former French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova.
Wimbledon champion Rybakina swept past last year’s French Open and US Open winner Swiatek 6-4, 6-4 in 1 hour, 29 minutes at a stunned Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne.
Moscow-born Rybakina, seeded 22, moves on to a quarter-final encounter with Jelena Ostapenko.
The Latvian 17th seed provided the second upset of a crazy few minutes by knocking out seventh seed Gauff 7-5, 6-3 on neighboring Margaret Court Arena.
The 18-year-old Gauff broke down in tears during an emotional post-match news conference.
World No. 1 and hot favorite Swiatek admitted that Rybakina deserved to win.
“I felt the pressure,” Swiatek, 21, said. “I felt that I didn’t want to lose instead of wanting to win.”
Swiatek, who dominated women’s tennis last year and is already a three-time major champion, added: “I felt today that I don’t have that much left to fight even more.”
“I felt like I took a step back in terms of how I approach these tournaments, and I maybe wanted it a little bit too hard,” she said. “So I’m going to try to chill out a little bit more.”
Swiatek follows second seed Ons Jabeur out the Melbourne exit door, the Tunisian having gone out in the second round in another surprise.
Gauff had been favorite to defeat Ostapenko, the 2017 French Open winner, but the 25-year-old Ostapenko was always in control to ensure that Gauff must wait at least a bit longer for a first major title.
Gauff told reporters it was a “little bit frustrating,” then her voice suddenly began to crack, the tears flowed and the teenager was offered a tissue.
“I’m OK, we can keep going,” she said.
In the second round of the women’s doubles, Taiwan’s Chan and Yang Zhaoxuan of China, the 11th seeds, cruised into the third round by defeating Makoto Ninomiya of Japan and Cristina Bucsa of Spain 6-3, 6-3.
The men’s singles has also seen a series of surprise results.
Unseeded Jiri Lehecka added to the list by beating sixth seed Felix Auger-Aliassime.
The 21-year-old Czech was knocked out in the first round at all four majors last year, but was too hot for the Canadian, winning 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7/2), 7-6 (7/3).
“After losing in the first round last year, if someone had told me before the tournament that I would be playing like this, I wouldn’t have believed them,” world No. 71 Lehecka said. “I’m super happy and excited.”
Karen Khachanov also reached the last eight after the Russian 18th seed blew away Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka 6-0, 6-0, 7-6 (7/4).
The men’s draw has an unfamiliar look to it.
Injury-hampered top seed and defending champion Rafael Nadal went out in the second round, as did second seed Casper Ruud.
Also out early was the 2021 and 2022 runner-up Daniil Medvedev, but nine-time Melbourne champion Novak Djokovic is still on the scene as he chases a record-equaling 22nd Grand Slam title.
However, the Serbian fourth seed is nursing a hamstring injury.
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