MELBOURNE (AFP) – World number one Iga Swiatek (AP pic, below) led the charge of women seeds into the last 16 of the Australian Open yesterday, as organisers defended what Andy Murray called his “farce” of a 4:05am finish.
The Americans Coco Gauff and Jessica Pegula were also big winners, ensuring that normal order was resumed on day five at Melbourne Park following the shocks of a day earlier.
World number two Ons Jabeur was the biggest casualty in the women’s draw on Thursday, while the men’s field has lost its top two seeds in Rafael Nadal and Casper Ruud.
Hot favourite Swiatek, a three-time major winner but chasing a first Australian Open title, swatted aside qualifier Cristina Bucsa of Spain 6-0, 6-1.
The Pole faces Elena Rybakina next after the Wimbledon champion defeated last year’s Melbourne runner-up Danielle Collins in three sets.
“For sure she’s very strong physically and mentally,” Moscow-born Kazakh Rybakina said, eyeing up the Swiatek challenge.
“I will have to take all my chances. I think Iga is a great player.”
The 18-year-old Gauff stepped up her bid for a maiden major title with a similarly emphatic 6-3, 6-2 victory over fellow American Bernarda Pera.
The talented teenager faces the 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia in the last 16.
Third seed Pegula, who is also chasing a first Grand Slam crown, also made light work of Marta Kostyuk with a 6-0, 6-2 victory.
The 28-year-old next faces what should be a sterner test in Barbora Krejcikova of the Czech Republic, the 20th seed and 2021 French Open champion.