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Day-session dazzlers: Kontaveit, Swiatek oust seeds; Halep advances

Day-session dazzlers: Kontaveit, Swiatek oust seeds; Halep advances

The Estonian and Pole will meet in an unlikely Australian Open fourth-round encounter after eliminating Belinda Bencic and Donna Vekic on Saturday in Melbourne.

Three women walked off the court in style on Saturday after rising to the occasion in the third round of Australian Open.


Anett Kontaveit d. Belinda Bencic

In a clinical performance, Kontaveit dismantled No. 6 seed Bencic, 6-0, 6-1, in 49 minutes on Margaret Court Arena. The Estonian, seeded No. 28, compiled 21 winners to just seven unforced errors – three which were donated via double faults. In a match where she could do little wrong, Kontaveit never felt pressure on serve and went on to claim twice as many points in the contest. Bencic, who received a walkover from an ill Kontaveit during her first major semifinal showing at the 2019 US Open, hoped to get into the second week for the first time in four years. Kontaveit is bidding to reach her first quarterfinal at a Slam.

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Iga Swiatek d. Donna Vekic

The 18-year-old joined fellow teenager Coco Gauff in the round of 16 after outhitting the 19th-seeded Vekic. Swiatek (pronounced Shvee-ON-tek) was down an early break in the second set, but managed to string together five consecutive games to knock out the Croatian in one hour and 44 minutes. The Pole saved eight of the nine break points she faced to equal her best major performance, a fourth-round appearance at Roland Garros last year. Swiatek will look to avenge her Cincinnati defeat to Kontaveit in her next Melbourne match.

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Simona Halep d. Yulia Putintseva

In a first-time encounter, former finalist Halep confidently booked her place in the round of 16 after advancing past Putintseva, 6-1, 6-4. The Romanian executed well on the baseline, finishing with a +11 differential in winners to unforced errors, to lock up the victory in 68 minutes. Halep is seeking her first title since triumphing at Wimbledon last year for her second major crown and is through to week two at the Happy Slam for the fifth time. The former No. 1 awaits either 2018 semifinalist Elise Mertens, the No. 16 seed, or American hopeful CiCi Bellis.

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Angelique Kerber, the 2016 champion and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who knocked out No. 2 Karolina Pliskova, were also victorious in a pair of roller-coaster matches. Joel Drucker has more from Melbourne on those two, who will carry an even 7-7 head-to-head record into their showdown Down Under.