World No.1 Iga Swiatek of Poland had no trouble reaching the Australian Open Round of 16 for the fourth straight season Friday, dismissing Spanish qualifier Cristina Bucsa 6-0, 6-1.
Swiatek will now take on last season's Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina in the Round of 16. Rybakina held off last year’s runner-up Danielle Collins 6-2, 5-7, 6-2 in their third-round meeting.
Their upcoming showdown will be the first meeting between reigning Grand Slam champions since Ashleigh Barty defeated Barbora Krejcikova in the 2021 Cincinnati quarterfinals.
Swiatek speaks: "I feel I'm more and more confident since Day 1 here," Swiatek said in her post-match press conference. "I'm not even talking about matches, but also practices. I feel like I've done so much work to feel more confident, more relaxed on court.
"I'm pretty happy that I did it because it's just a little bit easier. When you actually play those matches, you can feel the rhythm a little bit more. I think that's the thing that I am most pleased with."
Looking ahead to Rybakina, Swiatek added: "[Rybakina] really is a solid player. Since we played juniors, I knew that she's kind of going in the right direction. With her serve, she can do a lot."
Swiatek's confidence continues to grow: On Friday, Swiatek came as close as possible to notching the sixth double-bagel win of her professional career, but at 6-0, 5-0, Bucsa at last got on the scoreboard. Swiatek, though, did not stumble and served out the match in the following game. The top seed won 52 points to Bucsa's 19.
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Bucsa, who saved a match point in her second-round win over 2019 US Open champion Bianca Andreescu, is enjoying her first week inside the Top 100 at a new career-high ranking of No.100.
In her first match against a Top 10 player, Bucsa was overwhelmed by the the No.1 seed. Swiatek needed only 55 minutes to oust the qualifier. Swiatek never faced a break point all day.
Cool, calm & collected 👌— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 20, 2023
Wimbledon champion 🇰🇿 Elena Rybakina holds off #AusOpen finalist Collins in a three-set baseline battle 🙌@wwos • @espn • @eurosport • @wowowtennis • #AO2023 pic.twitter.com/wIano8CB64
Rybakina holds off Collins: Earlier, No.22 seed Rybakina collected a 2-hour and 5-minute win over Collins on Kia Arena to book her spot in the fourth round.
Rybakina had also defeated Collins in their opening match of this season at the Adelaide International 1, and she backed up that victory to move into the Round of 16 at the Australian Open for the first time in her career.
No.13 seed Collins, who beat Swiatek to reach her first Grand Slam final in Melbourne last year, had battled through two lengthy matches to get to the third round this year. Collins is the first woman to concede more than 30 games en route to the Australian Open third round since Daniela Hantuchova in 2014.
Another win proved to be one step too far for Collins, as Rybakina had 33 winners, including eight aces. Rybakina also had 33 unforced errors, but Collins had 34 unforced errors to just 22 winners.
Rybakina cruised through the opening set, but Collins held firm and garnered her first break point of the day at 6-5 in the second set -- which doubled as set point. The American converted that chance to level the match.
However, Rybakina quickly turned things around in the third set, polishing off some key rallies with deft volleys to race to a 4-0 lead. Rybakina closed out the win by storming to a love hold in the final game.
"To be honest, it doesn't matter which round I play [Swiatek] because I think Iga is a great player," Rybakina said in press. "No matter what, the goal is to beat the top players [even] if it's first, second round. The goal is to improve throughout the year. The year is actually long.
"I think that it's going to be a tough match. Hopefully it's going to go my way."