Iga Swiatek loss sparks shock 55-year first for tennis at Australian Open

The Australian Open has played host to a first in grand slam history, after yet another upset saw Iga Swiatek knocked out.

Iga Swiatek, Rafael Nadal, Ons Jabeur and Casper Ruud, the top four seeds at the Australian Open, have all been knocked out before the quarter-finals. Pictures: Getty Images
Iga Swiatek, Rafael Nadal, Ons Jabeur and Casper Ruud, the top four seeds at the Australian Open, have all been knocked out before the quarter-finals. Pictures: Getty Images

World No.1 Iga Swiatek has been sent crashing out of the Australian Open fourth round by reigning Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina, culminating in a remarkable first for the Open era of tennis. The top seed was outclassed 6-4, 6-4 by the 22nd seed, who likely would have drawn higher had points been counted for last year's All England slam.

A series of upsets and injuries in both main draws, as well as what fans have dubbed the 'Netflix curse', has the top two men's and women's seeds out before the quarter finals. It's the first time in the 55-year history of tennis' Open era that none of the four top seeds have made it to the quarter-final.

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Ons Jabeur, the World No.2 and second seed was upset by Markéta Vondroušová in the second round, while Rafael Nadal also went down in the second round, in part due to a hip injury. Second seed Casper Ruud was also knocked out in the second round.

Swiatek's fourth round match got off to an ominously poor start, penalised with a code violation for taking too long to be ready after the chair umpire called for the match to begin. She then had her serve broken from 40-0, an early break that Rybakina pounced on.

It was more back and forth in the second set, with both players exchanging breaks until Rybakina secured a crucial one to serve for the match. The Russian-born Kazakh had never been past the third round at Melbourne Park, and will now play Jelena Ostapenko in the quarter-finals after the 2017 French Open champion upset seventh seed Coco Gauff just a few minutes later.

"It was a really tough match and I really respect Iga because of the streak she had at the grand slams," Rybakena said in her on-court interview. "She's a young player and she plays really well.

"Today I was serving really good, just struggling on one side but I think in the important moments I played really well so it made a big difference. I'm nervous every time I go out onto the court. It's a big win and I'm just happy to get through another round."

The extraordinary scenes left fans and commentators stunned, with Channel 9 commentator Sam Smith describing it as a 'devastating' performance from Rybakina. Fans on social media were stunned by what had unfolded.

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Iga Swiatek ousted by impressed Elena Rybakina

Swiatek lamented her approach in Melbourne after her bid for a fourth major came to an abrupt halt. "I need to work on my mindset and fight a little bit more as I did last season so for sure I'm going to take time right now to reset," she told reporters.

"For sure the past two weeks have been pretty hard. Today I felt like I didn't have that much to take from myself to fight even more.

"I felt like I took a step back in terms of how I approached this tournament and I maybe wanted it a little bit too hard, so I'm going to try and chill out a little bit more, that's all. I felt the pressure and felt that I don't want to lose instead of that I want to win.

"That's the base of what I should focus on the next couple of weeks."

Iga Swiatek has admitted the burden of becoming the World No.1 after Ash Barty retired proved difficult to shoulder early on. (Photo by Christopher Pike/Getty Images)
Iga Swiatek has admitted the burden of becoming the World No.1 after Ash Barty retired proved difficult to shoulder early on. (Photo by Christopher Pike/Getty Images)

Swiatek was adamant entering Melbourne as world No.1 didn't affect her but said her build-up to the loss hadn't been ideal, despite winning her first three rounds in straight sets.

"I just wasted too much energy before the tournament and during the first days of the tournament to worry," Swiatek said.

The Polish star remains untouchable in the rankings after her standout 2022, when she claimed the French and US Opens among eight titles and went on a 37-match winning streak.The 21-year-old was reduced to tears after a straight-sets loss to world No.3 Jessica Pegula at the United Cup.

With AAP

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