While Iga Swiatek was playing her second-round match at the Australian Open, the chaos nearby was reaching a crescendo. Garbiñe Muguruza and Anett Kontaveit – the No.3 and No.6 seeds, respectively – were in the process of losing.
“For sure when I came off the court today I was kind of surprised by the scores, but I didn’t have a chance to watch these matches,” Swiatek, the No.7 seed, told reporters later.
On a day when No.12 Elena Rybakina and No.17 Emma Raducanu joined Muguruza and Kontaveit in the outbox at Melbourne Park, Swiatek was a 6-2, 6-2 winner over Rebecca Peterson. She and No.2 Aryna Sabalenka are the highest-seeded players left in the bottom half of the draw.
Swiatek faces No.25 Daria Kasatkina, a 6-2, 6-3 winner over Magda Linette, in a Sunday third-round match.
The 20-year-old from Poland said she hasn’t been focused on watching the matches of her colleagues, but has kept a peripheral eye on things.
🌅 #AustralianOpen is special. Such a beautiful country, many off-the-court activities and great atmosphere. And some nice talks about my tennis! @australianopen #team many thanks for this video. @WTA pic.twitter.com/hJxdtWkUq2— Iga Świątek (@iga_swiatek) January 20, 2022
“It’s more like it’s on,” she said. “I mean, if it would be the end of the season, I wouldn’t watch tennis, but it’s the beginning so I’m kind of curious how the girls are playing at the beginning of the season and how they worked during pre-season because maybe I can see that by watching.”
On Wednesday, she was mostly reading a book while watching Rafael Nadal’s second-round victory over a qualifier. She’s a big fan.
“Yeah,” Swiatek she said, “as usual.”
Head-to-head: 1-0, Kasatkina, Round of 16 at 2021 Eastbourne, 4-6, 6-0, 6-1.
No.14 Simona Halep versus Danka Kovinic
While there was much anticipation of a Halep-Emma Raducanu matchup, Kovinic did not cooperate. She was a 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 winner over the No.17-seeded Raducanu – and the creator of a nice slice of history.
Kovinic, 27, is the first player from Montenegro to reach the third round of a Grand Slam singles tournament. Playing her in 18th major, Kovinic wasn’t quite sure what it meant.
“Maybe if you ask me tomorrow, I could have a better answer on this question,” she said in her press conference. “I’m very proud to be here and to represent Montenegro as the only player in WTA or ATP on tour. It’s a huge thing for me and hopefully there will be many more kids, boys and girls, following my path in the future.”
The immediate future includes a date with Halep, who defeated Beatriz Haddad Maia 6-2, 6-0 – a match she called her best of the year, which is saying something. Halep won the Melbourne Summer Set 1 title and is now 7-0 in 2022.
Head-to-head: 1-0, Halep, in a 2016 Bucharest quarterfinal, in straight sets.
No.2 Aryna Sabalenka versus No.31 Marketa Vondrousova
Sabalenka has hit a staggering 70 double faults in her four matches this year, dropped the first set in three of them, and yet she’s through to the third round here in Melbourne.
She came back to beat Wang Xinyu 1-6, 6-4, 6-2, even though Wang wound up winning more points, 84-83. On the bright side, Sabalenka won 20 of 29 points on her second serve that didn’t end in double faults.
Vondrousova, meanwhile, was a 6-2, 7-5 winner over Liudmila Samsonova.
Head-to-head: 2-2, most recently in the Miami Round of 16 when Sabalenka took a 6-1, 6-2 decision. She had only three double faults in that one.
No.27 Danielle Collins versus Clara Tauson
Playing in only her fifth major, Tauson surprised Kontaveit 6-2, 6-4. The 19-year-old Dane had a specific game plan coming in, but abandoned it when her all-or-nothing strokes started falling in.
“It’s the first time I’m in the third round of a Slam,” Tauson said. “Playing a player like her to reach it, it’s a really big achievement for me.”
Collins, a 2019 semifinalist here, will be a handful. The 28-year-old American defeated Ana Konjuh 6-4, 6-3. She was scheduled to play in Sydney, but opted to get to Melbourne early and it seems to be paying off.
“She’s had a really impressive start to her career, on the professional side and was an incredible junior,” Collins said of Tauson. “We’ll go out there and battle and hopefully have a fun match.”
Head-to-head: 1-1, Collins, 2020 Roland Garros second round, 6-2, 6-3.
No.29 Tamara Zidansek versus Alize Cornet
Heading into the season, Cornet was thinking about calling 2022 her last, but maybe this Australian Open will convince her to reconsider.
Two days short of her 32nd birthday, Cornet stunned Muguruza 6-3, 6-3 for the upset of the tournament so far. She wasn’t immediately sure who she played next because when she first looked at the draw and saw Muguruza in the second round, she stopped looking.
“I haven’t beaten a top-five player in a Slam, so it’s a really good feeling,” Cornet said afterward. “I’m telling myself that I’m playing probably my last year. I’m not sure yet. When I stepped on the court, I was like, You know what, just enjoy the moment because you don’t know if you’re going to come back.”
Zidansek, for her part, handled Heather Watson 7-6 (4), 6-4.
No.19 Elise Mertens versus Zhang Shuai
Zhang advanced when another top seed, No.12 Rybakina – playing her ninth match of the season – retired trailing 6-4, 1-0. Mertens defeated Irina-Camelia Begu 6-3, 6-2.
Head-to-head: 2-1, Mertens, with the last meeting coming last year in the first round in Madrid, 6-4, 6-3.
No.10 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova versus Sorana Cirstea
Pavlyuchenkova ended Samantha Stosur’s Grand Slam singles career with a 6-2, 6-2 defeat. Cirstea rose above Kristina Kucova 6-2, 6-4.
Head-to-head: 3-3, but this is their first meeting in more than three years.
Kaia Kanepi versus [WC] Maddison Inglis
This is the most unlikely of the third-round matchups.
Inglis, who got past qualifier Hailey Baptiste, 7-6 (4), 2-6, 6-2, is in unprecedented territory. In six years as a professional, the 24-year-old Australian’s earning are $531,000. After two matches in Melbourne, she’s won $221,000 – with another $107,000 on the line against Kanepi.
“Yeah,” Inglis said, “it’s incredible. The prize money is something that I try really hard not to think about. But it’s going to be a huge help for me this year. It’s going to take a little bit of pressure off just me financially. It’s obviously quite expensive traveling, hiring a coach.”
While Inglis is ranked No.133, Kanepi is at No.115 – and at 36 is the oldest player left in the singles draw. She beat No.16 seed Angelique Kerber and Marie Bouzkova to get here.