Australian Open 2024: Iga Swiatek stunned by Linda Noskova in third round


Linda Noskova
Image caption,Linda Noskova is making her first Australian Open main draw appearance

By Matthew Henry

BBC Sport

Australian Open 2024
Venue: Melbourne Park Dates: 14-28 January
Coverage: Commentary every day from 07:00 GMT on Tennis Breakfast on Radio 5 Sports Extra and BBC Sounds, with selected live text commentaries and match reports on the BBC Sport website and app

World number one Iga Swiatek is out of the Australian Open after being stunned by Czech 19-year-old Linda Noskova in the third round.

The Pole, 22, had looked in control but the highly-rated Noskova fought back to win 3-6 6-3 6-4 on Rod Laver Arena.

In the decider, the world number 50’s power rocked Swiatek, who was hampered by forehand errors.

“I’m speechless,” said Noskova, who has reached the fourth round of a major for the first time.

“I knew it was going to be an amazing match with the world number one but I didn’t really think it would end up like this.

“I’m just really glad to get through this round.”

Noskova is playing in the main draw in Melbourne for the first time, having lost in qualifying last year as an 18-year-old.

She fell to the floor in disbelief after converting her first match point following a tight third set.

The loss also ended Swiatek’s 18-match unbeaten run, which stretched back to September.

Swiatek’s exit follows second-round defeats for third seed Elena Rybakina, fifth seed Jessica Pegula and sixth seed Ons Jabeur, with only three of the top 10 seeds – defending champion Aryna Sabalenka, US Open winner Coco Gauff and Barbora Krejcikova – left in the draw.

Noskova will play Ukrainian 19th seed Elina Svitolina next.

‘Stressed’ Swiatek stumbles

Wins over Jabeur, Azarenka and Daria Kasatkina on the WTA Tour last year drew attention to Noskova, but this is by far the biggest win of her young career.

She is the first teenager to beat a world number one at a Grand Slam since Petra Kvitova overcame Dinara Safina at the 2009 US Open.

After two tight sets, Noskova broke serve for 2-1 in the decider, saw a refocused Swiatek break back before then regaining the decisive break at 4-3.

The four-time Grand Slam champion applied pressure at 30-30 when Noskova served for the match but the Czech fired down an ace before a big first serve helped wrap up victory.

For Swiatek, this is her earliest exit at a Grand Slam since 2022, although it continues her mixed fortunes in Melbourne where one semi-final appearance is her only run beyond the fourth round in six attempts.

This year she almost lost in the second round, having to mount a comeback from 4-1 behind in the third set against Danielle Collins, and after Saturday’s defeat she admitted she was “more stressed” this week than in other tournaments on tour.

“I feel like I did everything I could in pre-season to improve some stuff that I wanted to,” she said.

“Then I came here and I wasn’t playing kind of natural any more [and] reactions a little bit slower.”

She said a fourth-round defeat last year “took her off balance” but this year she wants to “back to work”.

“I know I’m going to have plenty of chances during the season to show my game,” she added.

Zheng taking inspiration from Li in open draw

Zheng Qinwen
Image caption,Zheng’s win took two hours and 40 minutes on Rod Laver Arena

Swiatek’s defeat leaves 12th seed Zheng Qinwen of China as the highest ranked player in the top half of the draw.

She edged out compatriot Wang Yafan in a third-set tie-break to win 6-4 2-6 7-6 (10-8) – 10 years after Li Na became the first Chinese winner of the women’s singles title in Melbourne.

“That final I have watched more than 10 times,” said Zheng, who was 11 when Li won and met her in person for the first time after the win over Wang. “I have a lot of memories.

“I was sitting there in front of TV. I watched from beginning to the end. “

Two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka is the only Grand Slam finalist remaining in the top half after she progressed with a 6-1 7-5 victory over Latvia’s 11th seed Jelena Ostapenko.

The Belarusian 18th seed trailed 5-2 in the second set and had to save break points as she served for the match.

Svitolina will be seen as another contender after she brushed aside Switzerland’s Viktorija Golubic 6-2 6-3.

The 29-year-old made it to the semi-finals of Wimbledon and Roland Garros last year on her comeback after giving birth but has never reached a major final.

Zheng will play French world number 95 Oceane Dodin after she beat compatriot Clara Burel 6-2 6-4.

Russian Anna Kalinskaya, who is ranked 75th in the world, beat American Sloane Stephens 6-7 (8-10) 6-1 6-4 and will play Italian Jasmine Paolini.

Twenty-sixth seed Paolini reached her first Grand Slam fourth round by beating Anna Blinkova, who stunned Rybakina on Thursday, 7-6 (7-1) 6-4.

She will face Ukrainian qualifier Dayana Yastremska, who defeated American 27th seed Emma Navarro 6-2 2-6 6-1.

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