MELBOURNE, January 25, 2020 (by Sharada Rajagopalan)
The exodus of seeds in the women’s draw that began on Friday spilled onto Saturday as well at the Australian Open. The morning session lost two more top-10 seeds – the second-seeded Czech Karolina Pliskova and the sixth seed Belinda Bencic, while the evening session saw the fifth-seeded Elina Svitolina bow out of the competition.
In total, five among the top-10 seeds have perished in these two days’ bloodbath.
Russian 30th seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova saw off the World No. 2 7-6 (4), 7-6(3) in two hours and 25 minutes. Pliskova looked like she would make an unbeaten run throughout the Aussie swing after winning the Brisbane International, and had made it to the third round without dropping a set in her opening two rounds. But today she seemed vulnerable against the World No. 30 who had lost each of her previous six matches against her.
While Pavlyuchenkova was understandably happy with the result, Pliskova congratulated her opponent but with an addendum. “I think she was playing very well today. Maybe the best that she has played against me so far in the last couple matches,” she said.
“But let’s say I was about 40% today of my game so, of course, then she can feel so much better if I just don’t play enough what I can play. But, yeah, that’s how it is. I think especially the important moments she always served well so I had couple chances here and there. First and second set of course some set points. But I think she just played better than me.”
Pavlyuchenkova will take on 17th-seeded German Angelique Kerber in the fourth round. Kerber won against Italy’s Camila Giorgi 6-2, 6-7(4), 6-3.
End of road for fifth and sixth seeds
Switzerland’s Bencic came up with a lopsided performance against the 28th seeded Estonian, Anett Kontaveit. Kontaveit needed just 49 minutes to wrap up a 6-0, 6-1 win over her opponent. Kontaveit will play 18-year-old Iga Swiatek of Poland in the fourth round. Swiatek also came through to the second week with an upset win over the 19th seed from Croatia, Donna Vekic. Swiatek won 7-5, 6-3.
The theme of shocks was extended into the evening session when the unseeded Garbine Muguruza whizzed past Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina 6-1, 6-2 in an hour and seven minutes. The Spaniard, whose best result in the tournament came two years ago, in 2017, was in a completely different form to when she had begun the tournament.
Speaking with the media after her win, the two-time Major titlist said that she had been recovering from illness in her first-round match against the United States’ Shelby Rogers. “The first day I didn’t feel well at all, but I never throw in the towel. I’m in the fourth round because of a big fight,” Muguruza said.
The former World No. 1 will play ninth-seeded Dutchwoman Kiki Bertens in the round-of-16. Bertens survived the mass ousters against Kazakhstan’s Zarina Diyas, winning 6-2, 7-6(3).
The last 16 ⬇️
🇦🇺 Barty 🆚 Riske 🇺🇸
🇬🇷 Sakkari 🆚 Kvitova 🇨🇿
🇺🇸 Gauff 🆚 Kenin 🇺🇸
🇹🇳 Jabeur 🆚 Wang Q. 🇨🇳
🇪🇪 Kontaveit 🆚 Swiatek 🇵🇱
🇧🇪 Mertens 🆚 Halep 🇷🇴
🇪🇸 Muguruza 🆚 Bertens 🇳🇱
🇩🇪 Kerber 🆚 Pavlyuchenkova 🇷🇺
— Fed Cup (@FedCup) January 25, 2020