Seven-time champion Serena Williams suffered her earliest exit from the Australian Open in 14 years, falling 6-4 6-7(2) 7-5 to China’s Wang Qiang in a stunning third-round upset.
Wang, who was thrashed by Williams in the US Open quarterfinals, sensationally ended the American’s bid for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title at Melbourne Park.
World No 1 and home favourite Ashleigh Barty said she played her best match this year in blowing away 29th seed Elena Rybakina 6-3, 6-2 to barrel into the fourth round on Friday.
Barty plays American 18th seed Alison Riske or Julia Goerges – her doubles partner – next in Melbourne as she bids to become the first Australian to win the women’s title since 1978.
Barty needed just 78 minutes to dispose of the young Kazakh and said: “I felt I needed to be really switched on for this.
“I feel it’s the best I’ve played this summer so far.”
“This is why I train and work so hard – to come out here, I’m loving every minute,” added the 23-year-old, who won the title in Adelaide before the Australian Open.
Caroline Wozniacki’s glittering tennis career ended in tears at the Australian Open on Friday when she was dumped out by lower-ranked Ons Jabeur of Tunisia.
The Danish former world No 1, who announced in December that this would her final tournament, lost 7-5, 3-6, 7-5 in the third round.
The unseeded 29-year-old brings the curtain down on a career that saw her win 30 WTA titles, with her sole Grand Slam triumph coming in 2018 at Melbourne Park.
“Only fitting that my last match was a three-setter, a grinder and I finished my career with a forehand error,” said Wozniacki, as she choked back tears.
“Guess this is just how it was meant to be.
“I’ve had unbelievable experiences on the court, amazing fans and support I’ve had my from family, especially my dad who has coached me all these years.
“I usually don’t cry. I have special memories that I will cherish, it’s been a great ride.
“But I am ready for the next chapter, ready for what’s to come.”