MELBOURNE, Australia -- No.28 seed Anett Kontaveit of Estonia cruised into the fourth round of the Australian Open for the second time in the last three years, knocking out No.6 seed Belinda Bencic of Switzerland, 6-0, 6-1, on Saturday afternoon.
Bencic and Kontaveit were slated to face off for the first time in the third round of last year’s US Open, but the Estonian withdrew from that match due to a viral illness. This time around, Kontaveit took advantage of her new chance, blasting past the World No.7 in just 49 minutes.
It was a nearly perfect performance by the World No.31, who used her hard-hitting game to clock 21 winners. The Estonian No.1 also kept her game extremely tidy, with only seven unforced errors in the tilt, and she never faced a break point in the match.
Bencic, who notched her 100th career main-draw hard-court victory with her second-round win, could only muster up 40 percent of points when she was serving, and her 18 unforced errors outpaced her 11 winners.
Kontaveit will try to claim her first Grand Slam quarterfinal appearance when she faces rising Polish teenager Iga Swiatek in the round of 16. Swiatek upset No.19 seed Donna Vekic in straight sets later on Saturday.
Amazing Anett Kontaveit!— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 25, 2020
The Estonian upsets sixth seed Belinda Bencic 6-0 6-1 in 49 minutes to reach the fourth round here in Melbourne, a feat she last achieved in 2018.#AO2020 | #AusOpen pic.twitter.com/zQnlrHhQuE
Kontaveit was truly on a mission in the opening frame, crushing fierce forehands to break Bencic for 2-0, then holding at love with more great groundstrokes to consolidate the break. Another break led to a 4-0 lead as Bencic was left flummoxed by the pristine ballstriking from the Estonian.
At 5-0, Bencic had a game point to avert the bagel, but Kontaveit’s return game was on song, and she was able to power to another break and grab the 6-0 lead. Kontaveit only dropped three points on serve in the opener, while converting three of her four break points during that timeframe.
Kontaveit’s roll continued as she blasted consecutive backhand winners from 30-30 to garner another break and lead 2-0 in the second set. A hold at love gave the Estonian a ninth straight game and put her just three games away from the upset.
Bencic finally got on the board at 3-1, but any chance she had to earn a break in the next game was squandered as she misfired on two service returns from 30-30. Now leading 4-1, Kontaveit grabbed three break points in that game, polishing off another break after two sterling service returns in a row.
At 5-1, Kontaveit saw her first match point go begging after she missed a backhand wide. However, a forehand winner set up a second opportunity, which the No.28 seed converted after a wide return by Bencic. It became, fittingly, the tenth Top 10 win of Kontaveit’s career.
"She definitely she played a great match," said Bencic. "Really solid. Of course, I think I was a little bit overwhelmed. I don't think I started really well, so I kind of, like, started 0-3, 0-4, and then it's difficult. Obviously, she's very confident after that, and she played great swinging.
"There is not much you can do. You can just try and fight. Obviously, it didn't work out for me today. I didn't feel my best on the court but she was playing really well. I was trying to hang in there. Now, obviously it's important to get my matches in and just try to find my rhythm again."