Iga Swiatek's Path To Australian Open Title Clears Up After Top Seeds Tumble

Iga Swiatek's Path To Australian Open Title Clears Up After Top Seeds Tumble

by Nurein Ahmed

Iga Swiatek was on the brink of early elimination in her second-round match against former finalist Danielle Collins but turned around a late deficit to prevail.

After accounting for two tough opponents, one of whom was a former champion, Sofia Kenin, in a match in which she also fought back after trailing in the opening set, the Pole might now look at a more cushy path to the final Saturday.

Swiatek still has life in this year's Australian Open, which will spell bad news for the rest of the draw. Seeded players continue to skid in an Australian Open women's tournament full of upsets and career breakthroughs.

One of the most striking tennis stats in women's Grand Slam tournaments is that in only 17 of the last 223 majors have all the top four seeds reached the semifinals (Open Era). At the start of the tournament a week ago, Swiatek, Aryna Sabalenka, Elena Rybakina, and Coco Gauff looked likely to increase that number.

In the semifinal, Swiatek was on a collision course with Rybakina, the woman who knocked her out from last year's fourth round. But that won't happen following the Kazakh's seismic defeat to Anna Blinkova in a record-breaking second-round match.

The highest-seeded player Swiatek is now projected to meet before the final is 11th-seed Jelena Ostapenko. Swiatek can only meet the Latvian in the quarterfinal and possibly Qinwen Zheng in the semifinal. It's no secret that Ostapenko is far from a straightforward task for the Pole.

The 2017 French Open champion is one of the few players with the power and placement to breach Swiatek's bullet-proof defense, something hard-hitting Danielle Collins nearly did in the early days of the tournament.

But Swiatek is inching close to solving Ostapenko's riddle, taking at least a set in each of her last two defeats to the Latvian ball striker. It is not a guarantee that she'll face her, given just how bumpy the road has been for the seeded players.

Swiatek takes on Czech teenager Linda Noskova in the third round and is expected to saunter into the second week without too much drama.

Although she is slated to meet Elina Svitolina and Jelena Ostapenko in back-to-back matches, which are hardly easy ties, the absence of Rybakina in her section is what will fuel Swiatek's desire to land that elusive first Australian Open title.


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