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By Richard Pagliaro | @Tennis_Now | Saturday, January 20, 2024

Armed with an abbreviated service motion, Iga Swiatek suffered disarming defeat in Melbourne.

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In her maiden major third-round appearance, 19-year-old Czech Linda Noskova shocked Swiatek 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 in an Australian Open stunner.

The Czech teen snapped Swiatek's 18-match winning streak and shattered the top seed's 2024 AO dream.

A bold Noskova cracked 35 winners, including 10 aces, stamping the biggest win of her young career to improve to 7-1 on the season.

Awash in emotion afterward, Noskova sat in her court-side seat, pressed her face in her towel and shed tears of joy. 

“I’m speechless, I knew it was going to be an amazing match with the world No. 1 and such a player, but I didn’t really think it would end up like this,” said Noskova, who suffered a crushing 6-1, 6-4 loss to Swiatek in their lone prior meeting in Warsaw last season. "“The match was obviously really, really tough...

"I think from the first time that I saw I was going to play her I was just thinking about this match for two days in a row. I was just trying to prepare myself mentally, I’m just really glad to get through this round."

The top-seeded Swiatek, who rallied from 1-4 down in the final set to defeat 2022 AO finalist Danielle Collins in a spirited second-round comeback, attributed the upset to two main reasons.

Swiatek said she lacked her typical sharp instinct reading the game and credited Noskova for playing proactive tennis on pivotal points.

"I felt like I had everything under control until she broke me in the second set," Swiatek said. "But, yeah, well, I had couple of chances to break her in second set and I didn't use them. So that's a shame.

"But when she broke me, she was kind of proactive. I wanted to do that as well later in the next games. Sometimes, yeah, I was rushing it. I just wasn't playing kind of with my intuition and naturally. I guess I'll have to work on stuff to feel more comfortable next year."

And then there were three.

Swiatek's stunning ouster means only three Top 10 seeds reached the round of 16 in the women's field.

No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka carries a losing record against her fourth-round opponent Amanda Anisimova.

US Open champion and No. 4-seeded Coco Gauff aims to extend her Slam winning streak to 11 matches when she faces the lone Pole still standing, 69th-ranked Magdalena Frech, in the fourth round.

No. 9-seeded two-time defending AO doubles champion Barbora Krejcikova will try to halt the inspired run of 16-year-old sensation Mirra Andreeva in the fourth round. Devoted fans will recall Andreeva upset former French Open singles and doubles champion Krejcikova in the Wimbledon second round last summer. 

The 2022 AO semifinalist suffered her earliest Melbourne exit since a second-round loss in her 2019 debut.

Asked why she's struggled a bit at Melbourne Park, the 2022 US Open champion said "Well, the surface is quicker. That's all I'd say."

Embed from Getty Images

Modifying her serve motion from a full traditional backswing to an abbreviated takeback, Swiatek battled, but dropped serve in the seventh game of the decider. Noskova won eight of her last 11 service points to close in two hours, 20 minutes and set up a fourth-round vs. 19th-seeded Elina Svitolina, who knocked Swiatek out of Wimbledon last summer.

The winner of the Noskova vs. Svitolina match will play either two-time former AO champion Victoria Azareka or Ukrainian qualifer Dayana Yastremska for a semifinal spot.

Photo credit: Andy Cheung/Getty