Matt Walsh, Assistant EditorJan 20, 2024, 09:01 AM ET
ShutMatt Walsh is a Melbourne-based sports activities journalist who willingly travels far and huge to look at any sport. Not solely has he seen NFL in Dallas, soccer in London, baseball in Arlington and hockey in Boston, he is lined F1, AFL, Wimbledon and the Australian Open for a lot of media retailers.
MELBOURNE, Australia — World No. 1 Iga Swiatek has been upset within the third spherical of the Australian Open by Fiftieth-ranked Czech teen Linda Noskova.
Swiatek claimed the primary set and seemed prone to safe passage into the fourth spherical, however Noskova, 19, rallied with steely resolve to save lots of break factors after which convert her personal to take the second.
With the stress on the world No. 1 Swiatek — who had gained 67 of her earlier 68 matches in opposition to gamers ranked exterior the highest 50 — Noskova broke twice within the decider to safe her place within the second week.
Swiatek’s loss means it is simply the second time the No. 1-seeded lady hasn’t made it to the fourth spherical of the Australian Open, after Virginia Ruzici was dumped within the spherical of 32 in 1979. Noskova is the primary teenager to defeat a WTA No. 1 in a significant since 19-year-old Petra Kvitova defeated Dinara Safina within the third spherical of the 2009 US Open.
So what went incorrect for Swiatek? Listed here are three takeaways from her early exit.
Linda Noskova shakes arms with Iga Swiatek after their third-round match. Andy Cheung/Getty Photos
World No. 1 did not capitalize on break-point possibilities
In a decent second set, the four-time main champ twice had the chance to interrupt her youthful opponent’s serve however did not take benefit.
With Noskova serving within the fifth recreation at 2-2, Swiatek was unable to transform a break level after her opponent despatched down a serve huge to the backhand that Swiatek could not get again over the web.
In Noskova’s subsequent service recreation, Swiatek once more had a break-point alternative, and on her opponent’s second serve, however she hit the backhand into the web. Swiatek then received damaged to like, as Noskova reeled off 11 of the following 12 factors to take the set.
“I felt like I had every little thing below management till she broke me within the second set,” Swiatek stated.
“I had couple of possibilities to interrupt her in second set and I did not use them. In order that’s a disgrace. However when she broke me, she was sort of proactive.”
Throughout the match, Swiatek transformed simply 2 of seven break-point alternatives (29%) — one within the first set and one within the third after Novoska had already damaged — to her opponent’s 3 of seven. In her first two matches, Swiatek transformed extra persistently at 44% and 47%.
Swiatek confronted ‘second-week challenges’ within the first two rounds
As a world No. 1 and the No. 1 seed at a Grand Slam, you are inclined to anticipate a neater draw within the early rounds. In spite of everything, you are not anticipated to fulfill the No. 2 till the ultimate — if all issues go to plan — nor different high seeds till effectively into the second week of the match.
However what Swiatek could not account for was the luck of the draw. Whereas not at her Australian Open-winning greatest, Swiatek’s first-round matchup with unseeded 2020 champion Sofia Kenin raised eyebrows. Many had it circled as a possible upset within the first spherical, however Swiatek was capable of overcome an early problem from Kenin to win 7-6, 6-2, solely to progress to the second spherical to face one other unseeded American in 2022 runner-up Danielle Collins.
Collins additionally proved difficult; pushing Swiatek to 3 units earlier than the world No. 1 prevailed 6-4, 3-6, 6-4.
“For certain I used to be extra harassed than on different tournaments, particularly within the first two rounds,” Swiatek stated after the loss.
“However I believe some issues simply did not work as they did earlier than, despite the fact that I used to be working the identical approach.
“I really feel like I did actually every little thing I may in preseason to enhance some stuff that I wished to. Then I got here right here and I wasn’t taking part in sort of pure anymore. I do not know, like my break up step was too late generally. Response somewhat bit slower. Another issues.”
The longer term is vivid for Czech girls’s tennis
9 Czech girls made up the 128 gamers within the Australian Open girls’s most important attract 2024, and whereas the small European nation has all the time had success in world tennis, it is clear the following era goes to proceed within the footsteps of the present crop of stars.
The nation is not any stranger to gamers making deep Slam runs, boasting final 12 months’s Wimbledon champion Marketa Vondrousova, 2021 Roland Garros winner Barbora Krejcikova and two-time Slam finalist Karolina Pliskova, and Noskova is now one in all a lot of Czech teenagers beginning to make their mark on the senior stage.
Ranked No. 50 on the earth coming into the match, this was Noskova’s first time in the principle draw of the Australian Open, and together with sisters Brenda (16 years outdated) and Linda Fruhvirtova (18), she represents the upcoming power of Czech tennis — particularly on the ladies’s aspect.
“I do know that I’ve improved so much within the final 12 months and a half, 12 months. I simply believed my recreation tonight,” Noskova stated after the win.
“I simply actually wished this win as a result of I did not actually come to that court docket with the considered, like, I’ve nothing to lose. I took it very critically. It was like a match as some other.”