Defending champion Aryna Sabalenka and former US Open champion Coco Gauff remain on a collision course for an Australian Open mega-showdown after dominant straight-sets victories in the fourth round at Melbourne Park. The pair registered statement wins on Sunday afternoon as both look to make the most of World No.1 Iga Swiatek's exit on Saturday night.
Sabalenka is aiming to become the first woman since Victoria Azarenka in 2013 to claim back-to-back Australian Open titles, beating American Amanda Anisimova 6-3 6-2 in just over an hour on Sunday. After the match, the World No.2 said she is feeling at the top of her game and believes she can claim another Australian Open crown.
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"I'm super happy with (my) level, happy to get this win," Sabalenka said. "She's a tough opponent and I'm super happy to see her back on tour and I'm pretty sure she'll be back in the top players very soon. I really want to stay here as long as I can, until the very last day."
Sabalenka will meet either 2021 French Open winner Barbora Krejcikova or 16-year-old Russian star Mirra Andreeva in the quarter-finals. After Swiatek's loss, Sabalenka is the highest seed left in the women's draw.
Arguably her stiffest competition comes in potential semi-final opponent Gauff. The American also made light work of her fourth-round opponent, dismantling Magdalena Frech 6-1 6-2 in little more than an hour.
Gauff never faced a break point on Sunday and hit 21 winners to lock in a quarter-final encounter with Ukraine's Marta Kostyuk, who beat Maria Timofeeva 6-2 6-1. It's the first time Gauff has made it past the fourth round of the Australian Open.
Iga Swiatek claims unwanted piece of history in Australian Open loss
Swiatek became the earliest exit from a women's top seed at the Australian Open in 45 years on Saturday night after teenager Linda Noskova shocked the tennis world by knocking the World No.1 out. The Pole took the first set comfortably against the Czech and appeared to be on track for a 19th straight win before folding up in the third round at Melbourne Park.
The loss marks the earliest a women's No.1 seed has been knocked out of the Australian Open since Virginia Ruzici lost in the first round in 1979. While with the win Noskova created her own slice of history, becoming the lowest-ranked woman to beat the No.1 seed at the Australian Open since Serena Williams (World No.81 at the time) beat Maria Sharapova in the final in 2007. Noskova is also the first teenager to knock off the World No.1 at an Aussie Open since Amelie Mauresmo beat Lindsay Davenport in 1999.
The Czech will play 19th seed Elina Svitolina in the fourth round, after the Ukrainian beat Viktorija Golubic 6-2 6-3 on Saturday night. "I'm speechless," Noskova said on court. "I knew it was going to be an amazing match, with the World No.1, such a player, but I didn't really think that it would end up like this."
- with AAP
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