Ash Barty celebrated being at the footy with a beer in hand on Friday night, but the World No.1 might be able to afford a few more after a string of French Open upsets meant she is guaranteed to finish the year with the top ranking.
The Australian champion has Polish teenager Iga Swiatek to thank for preserving her No.1 ranking after she scored a shock 6-1, 6-2 upset over World No.2 Simona Halep.
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Halep was the top seed for the French Open and was widely tipped to win the whole tournament, having claimed two titles on clay in the lead-up to the grand slam and with Barty opting not to travel to France due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The 29-year-old Romanian had also been undefeated since January.
The loss ended Halep’s career-best winning streak of 17 consecutive matches, guaranteeing that Barty will finish the year atop the world rankings.
Halep was one of a number of top seeds to be knocked out of the tournament on a surprising day of play which also saw the likes of Alexander Zverev and Kiki Bertens bounced from Roland Garros leading into the quarter-finals.
The 19-year-old Swiatek, ranked 54th in the world, had lost to Halep 6-1 6-0 at the same stage last year in the claycourt grand slam at Roland Garros.
Her victory over Halep ensured nobody can knock Barty from the No.1 spot in the rankings, with remaining seeds Elina Svitolina, Sofia Kenin, Petra Kvitova and Ons Jabeur all too low to challenge the Australian star.
Top seeds tumble in French Open chaos
In her first ever grand slam quarter-final, Swiatek will play Italy’s Martina Trevisan, who upset Belgian fifth seed Bertens.
“I felt like I was playing perfectly,” Swiatek said in an interview on Court Philippe Chatrier.
“I was so focused the whole match and I'm surprised I could do that. This week has been a dream come true for me.”
Another major shock swiftly followed as Italian Trevisan defeated Bertens 6-4 6-4 to become the first qualifier in eight years to reach the quarter-finals.
The World No.159 played aggressively throughout to stun Bertens.
“I came here two weeks ago to play the qualifiers and today I'm here in the quarter-finals. I can't believe it,” said Trevisan, who will break into the top 100 of the WTA rankings on Monday.
“I'm really honoured to play on this court with Bertens; she's an incredible player.”
Meanwhile, Rafael Nadal blew away American qualifier Sebastian Korda 6-1 6-1 6-2 to romp into the French Open quarter-finals and close in on a record-extending 13th title at Roland Garros.
Nadal has dropped only 23 games so far and is yet to face a seed. He will next take on rising Italian Jannik Sinner in his 42nd Grand Slam quarter-final, third on the all-time list.
Sinner earned his place in the last eight by downing German sixth seed Zverev 6-3 6-3 4-6 6-3, in the process becoming the first debutant to reach the French Open quarter-finals since Nadal himself in 2005.
The 19-year-old will also be the youngest male player since Novak Djokovic in 2006 to feature in the last eight at Roland Garros.
Should Zverev have done more to follow the rules? Absolutely, yes.— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) October 4, 2020
Should #RG20 have done more so that rules based on a naïve belief in “a sense of civic duty and responsibility” weren’t so easy to ignore? Absolutely, yes.
Can’t trust folks, y’all. pic.twitter.com/sBqFmKKgda
After the match, Zverev complained of feeling unwell and struggling to breathe, although the French tennis federation (FFT), who run the tournament, said he was tested for COVID-19 on September 29 and the test returned a negative result the following day.
Organisers said Zverev did not consult with the Roland Garros medical service before his match against Sinner.
Dominic Thiem nearly became another high-profile casualty, the third seed surviving an incredible fightback from French wild card Hugo Gaston to win 6-4 6-4 5-7 3-6 6-3.
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