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Iga Swiatek escapes Australian Open thriller; Elena Rybakina out in longest Slam tiebreak

Top-ranked Iga Swiatek outlasted American Danielle Collins in the longest Grand Slam match of her career to reach the Australian Open third round.

Later Thursday, No. 3 Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan, last year's runner-up, fell in the longest tiebreak in Grand Slam history. Anna Blinkova, the 57th-ranked Russian, won 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (20) on the 10th match point and in a 30-minute tiebreak.

Poland's Swiatek rallied from down 4-1 in the third set to win 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 over Collins, the 2022 Australian Open runner-up whose ranking has fallen outside the top 60 for the first time in six years.

"I was on the airport already," Swiatek, on an 18-match win streak dating to Oct. 1, said of how close she came to an early exit. "I felt like I had the momentum going and then she started playing, suddenly, two times faster. I had kind of no idea how to react to that for a couple of minutes, a couple of games."

AUSTRALIAN OPEN DRAWS: Women | Men

It took 3 hours, 14 minutes, making it the second-longest tour-level match of Swiatek's career and her longest at the Grand Slam level, according to Tennis Abstract.

Collins, ranked 62nd, was bidding to become the lowest-ranked American man or woman to upset a world No. 1 at a Slam. Minutes after the match, the 30-year-old Collins said in a press conference that she is going to retire later this year.

"I'm kind of at the end of my career, and they (losses) don't sting quite as much, to be honest," she said. "I've had a pretty good career. There has certainly been ups and downs to it, and I think the travel and some of the things away from the court with scheduling and all of that, this is a really tough sport. I have other things that I'd kind of like to accomplish in my life outside of tennis."

Swiatek next plays 19-year-old Czech Linda Noskova, who is ranked 50th.

Swiatek avoided what would have been her earliest exit from a Slam since the 2019 U.S. Open (also second round), when she was 18 years old.

Since, Swiatek won four majors -- three French Opens and one U.S. Open -- and has been the world's dominant player since Australian Ash Barty retired while ranked No. 1 in March 2022.

American Jessica Pegula, the fifth seed, was taken out by 50th-ranked Frenchwoman Clara Burel in straight sets. Pegula made the quarterfinals the last three years.

There are no other top-10 seeds left in Swiatek's half of the draw.