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Disbelief circulated around Rod Laver Arena last night as world No.1 Iga Świątek was sent packing by Czech teenager Linda Nosková in what will be regarded as the biggest shock of the Australian Open so far.

The draw already opened up when third seed Elena Rybakina was upset in a marathon tiebreak, leading many to assume a two-horse race between Świątek and reigning champion Aryna Sabalenka to fight for the Daphne trophy. Nosková however, had other plans to spoil the party.

The 19-year-old wasn’t fazed by the enormity of the occasion out on Centre Court to begin with, creating two break point opportunities for herself after the first two games, but failed to capitalise in a first set dominated by quality serving.

Only requiring one break, Świątek took the opener to put one foot into the fourth round, helped by her opponent’s inability to protect her second serve as Nosková only won 29% of points in that department.

Things changed in the following set when Nosková opted to go all guns blazing and take more risks. Despite her 12 unforced errors in the set, 15 winners highlighted the ambition of the world No.35 to take the initiative.

Those efforts were rewarded when a bullet of a forehand return set up another solitary break for the set to tie the match and force a decider.

It was a strange night for the four-time Grand Slam champion who leaked forehand errors left right and centre to allow Nosková’s confidence to grow larger as the key moments played out.

Impressively from 0-30 down, Nosková turned a dream into reality as she rounded off a 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory in two hours and 20 minutes.

The result marks the earliest exit by a No.1 seed at the Australian Open since 1979. Also, the last teenager to defeat a world No.1 at a major was Petra Kvitová back in 2009 when she toppled Dinara Safina in the third round of the US Open.

In the post-match press conference, Świątek explained how difficult it was to read Nosková’s service games.

“It was tough to read her serve. I would say she kind of serves Sabalenka’s and Rybakina's style in terms of the placement and the speed,” she said.

“I would say that I wasn't returning overall on this tournament the same way as usually, especially the second serves.”

When asked if she ever thought anything like this would be possible in her life 12 months ago, Nosková told the media that she always believes in herself.

“I know my game. I know that I have improved a lot in the last year and a half,” said the Czech talent.

“I just really wanted this win because I didn't really come to that court with the thought of, like, I have nothing to lose. I took it very seriously. It was like a match as any other.”

Nosková will now prepare to meet two-time Australian Open quarter-finalist Elina Svitolina in the round of 16.


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