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Australian Open’s biggest shock as world No 1 Iga Swiatek dumped out by unseeded teen

Australian Open's biggest shock as world No.1 Swiatek dumped out by unseeded teen
Linda Noskova kept her cool to knock out Iga Swiatek - Getty Images/Anthony Wallace

World No 1 Iga Swiatek was dumped out of the Australian Open by unseeded teenager Linda Noskova, in the biggest shock of the tournament so far.

The upset ends Swiatek’s 17-match winning streak, which dates back to last September, and becomes the earliest loss by a No.1 seed at the Australian Open since 1979, when Virginia Ruzici lost in the first round.

Despite winning the first set, Swiatek let Noskova sneak back into the match and the Czech launched a 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 comeback on Rod Laver Arena.

“I felt like I had everything under control, but I think she just went all in without any pressure,” Swiatek said of Noskova. “She probably knew that she had nothing to lose, you know? Maybe I should have done that when I had break points in previous games, but I wanted kind of to be the solid version of myself.

“I don’t have many thoughts right now. I will watch and analyze what I did wrong. I just wasn’t playing kind of with my intuition and naturally.”

Swiatek joins third seed Elena Rybakina in the long list of top women’s players who have crashed out in the first week in Melbourne. Only seven of the original 32 seeds remain, leaving the door open for the likes of reigning champion Aryna Sabalenka or US Open winner Coco Gauff to potentially run away with the title.

As a four-time grand slam champion and considering her form, 22-year-old Swiatek was tipped as one of the favourites in Melbourne. Her draw was initially tricky, as she played former champion Sofia Kenin in the opening round, before fighting past former finalist Danielle Collins. But she had passed those two tests and may have expected an easier ride against Noskova.

In the last 18 months, Swiatek had only lost to a player ranked outside the top 30 once. But Noskova had other ideas.

This may have been her debut main draw appearance at the Australian Open, but the 19-year-old has long been tipped as a talent to watch, as a former French Open girls’ champion in 2021.

After losing the first set, Noskova continued backing her own aggressive game, started relying more on her sharp shooting backhanders and matched Swiatek’s firepower.

She nabbed a break midway through the second set and then kept her nerve, winning 11 of the last 12 points to push the match to a decider. Swiatek was struggling with her heavy topspin forehand, hitting 21 unforced errors throughout the match.

Noskova: I didn’t really think it would end up like this

Things were tight, and the pair exchanged early breaks in the final set but, in the big points, Noskova was the better player. Up a break and serving it out at 5-4, she barely flinched. At 30-30, two points from victory, she seemed nerveless and hit an ace down the T. When Swiatek’s return swung long on the next point, only then did Noskova’s game face slip, and she crouched to her knees on the baseline in disbelief.

Sat in her chair afterwards, the emotion overcame her and she cried into her towel. “I’m speechless obviously,” she told Laura Robson in her on-court interview. “I knew it was going to be an amazing match with world No 1, such a player, but I didn’t really think it would end up like this. I’m just really glad to get through.

“I was a little shaking, I didn’t hit two first serves which was not the best start. But I pulled out an ace, and it’s easier like that. It was amazing to play here for the first time.”

The Czech Republic consistently produces top players, with eight currently in the world’s top 50 and reigning Wimbledon champion Marketa Vondrousova among them. With this win, Noskova could rise to a career high ranking inside the world top 40 by the end of this tournament.

She faces Wimbledon semi-finalist Elina Svitolina in the last 16.

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