Second-round exits for both No.3 seed Elena Rybakina and No.5 seed Jessica Pegula at the Australian Open meant that opportunity knocked for all of the women remaining in the second quarter of the women's singles draw when they all returned to the court on Saturday.

Still standing after Day 7's early action at Melbourne Park are a trio of players who'll feature in the second week of a Grand Slam for the first time: No.26 seed Jasmine Paolini of Italy, as well as two unseeded players -- Anna Kalinskaya and France's Oceane Dodin. 

Saturday began with Kalinskaya's 6-7(8), 6-1, 6-4 victory over 2017 US Open champion Sloane Stephens -- which assured that there would be a first-time Grand Slam semifinalist out of the quarter, which is in world No. 1 Iga Swiatek's half of the draw.

The highest seed remaining in the section is No.12 Zheng Qinwen, who reached the quarterfinals of the US Open last summer and survived a third-set tiebreak against compatriot Wang Yafan to reach the last 16 in Melbourne for the first time. Paolini is seeded No.26 despite having never previously been past the second round of a major, while Kalinskaya and Dodin came into the year's first Slam ranked No.75 and No.95, respectively.

Having beaten Stephens on a big stage before at the 2019 US Open, Kalinskaya bounced back for a 2-hour and 45-minute victory after having failed to convert any of four set points in a marathon first set. She also came from 3-1 behind in the final set, and saved a pair of break points in the eighth game of it that would've seen Stephens serve for the match. 

She hit 46 winners in victory, saved 12 of the 13 break points she face, and also hit five aces. 

"Everything is possible. I work hard. I practice every day, staying every day doing my things, being professional," Kalinskaya told reporters in her post-match press conference. "It's very positive, and I'm proud of myself.

"It just, for me, means that anyone can win. The most important is to fight, and you have to enjoy, and then in the end of the match, you will see how it goes."

Later in the day, Dodin toppled Clara Burel -- who beat Pegula in the second round for her first career Top 10 win -- 6-4, 6-3 in an all-French affair, and Paolini edged Anna Blinkova -- who saved six match points and won the longest tiebreak in Grand Slam history to beat Rybakina -- 7-6(1), 6-4 from 4-1 down in the second set.

Neither Kalinskaya nor Paolini had a main-draw win at the Australian Open in their careers before this year, while Dodin reached the second round in 2015 and 2017. The 27-year-old from Lille, near the border with Belgium, was a Top 50 player six years ago, but injuries and illness dropped her to outside the Top 500 as recently as the summer of 2019. 

Dodin had, in fact, only won one Grand Slam main-draw match in the last six years before these championships, but hasn't lost a set in her three wins. In the first round, she beat No. 29 seed Zhu Lin, who reached the fourth round herself in Melbourne last year, and followed that up with a win over 2023 Roland Garros semifinalist Martina Trevisan. 

In the last 16, Kalinskaya will face Paolini for the second time in their careers (the Italian won 6-3, 6-2 on her way to her first Hologic WTA Tour singles title in Portoroz, Slovenia in 2021), while Dodin and Zheng will meet for the first time at WTA level after having met three times on the ITF Women's Tennis Tour.