'What is happening': Tennis world stunned by Aus Open 'madness'
Tennis fans were left stunned at the Australian Open on Friday when Elina Svitolina became the latest high-profile women's seed to crash out.
There was absolute chaos at Melbourne Park on Thursday when Garbine Muguruza, Anett Kontaveit and Elena Rybakina were all sent packing - the third, sixth and 12th seeds respectively.
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On Friday it was 15th seed Svitolina to crash out in the third round after being blown off the court by Victoria Azarenka.
A two-time Australian Open champion, Azarenka prevailed 6-0 6-2 in a dominant display that had commentators and fans doing a double take.
Azarenka has battled back from injuries and an ugly custody battle in recent years and is the 24th seed at Melbourne Park.
Her performance on Friday had many tipping her for a deep run at the Australian Open, where she won the title in 2012 and 2013.
"Maybe it's time to start paying closer attention to Victoria Azarenka," tweeted Christopher Clarey of the New York Times.
Another fan described Azarenka's display as "madness", while others were left questioning what was happening with Svitolina, a former World No.2.
Victoria Azarenka is the first woman into the #AusOpen Round of 16, defeating Elina Svitolina in straight sets 6-0, 6-2.
The two-time Australian Open champion is looking strong and will be a tough out the rest of the way.#getty pic.twitter.com/5iXdcVvs6o
— Lukas Weese (@Weesesports) January 21, 2022
Maybe it's time to start paying closer attention to Victoria Azarenka
6-0 over Svitolina, coming off her strong end to the 2021 season
Looks fit and strong#getty pic.twitter.com/va3RZ3oXGi
— Christopher Clarey 🇺🇸 🇫🇷 🇪🇸 (@christophclarey) January 21, 2022
She definitely is in the mix.
— Jared Murtha (@MurtCJ) January 21, 2022
Exactly, what is going on with her. There must be something. Azarenka just had match point.
— Sam Camilleri (@SamCamilleri_1) January 21, 2022
It hasn't even been an hour and Azarenka is one game away from Round 4. A disaster from Elina 🤐 #AusOpen
— naema (@njano9611) January 21, 2022
— Y E N🌻 (@YenBurgos87) January 21, 2022
Could Victoria Azarenka win her third Australian Open title?
Azarenka hit nearly twice as many winners as unforced errors (17 to 9) and never faced a break point.
Svitolina made mistake after mistake - 26 unforced errors in all - as her record against Azarenka fell to 0-5.
"I feel like I played really well tactically and that really never let her into the game," Azarenka said.
"She's a great competitor and I tried to stay on top of her as much as possible and not let her breathe in a way.
"That was my goal before the match and I feel like I executed that well."
Champion at Melbourne Park in 2012 and 2013 before taking time off to have a child, Azarenka has serious hardcourt credentials.
The Belarusian has also reached three US Open finals, most recently two years ago when she beat Serena Williams before falling to Naomi Osaka in the title match.
Azarenka could potentially meet Osaka in the semi-finals and thwart the Japanese titleholder's own quest for a third Open triumph in Melbourne.
First she'll need to get past either fourth-seeded French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova or 26th seed Jelena Ostapenko on Sunday to book a berth in the quarter-finals for a fifth time.
Osaka, seeded 13th this year, plays American Amanda Anisimova later on Friday, with Australia's World No.1 Ash Barty facing Italian Camila Giorgi in the feature night match on Rod Laver Arena.
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