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Women's wrap: Fearless four Grand Slam champions advance

  • Gill Tan

Women's singles third round

A quartet of former Grand Slam champions competing in Friday's day session kept their hopes for a maiden Australian Open title alive with a clean sweep of their third-round matches.

MORE: All the scores from Day 5 at AO 2023

World No.1 and top seed Iga Swiatek trounced qualifier Cristina Bucsa, conceding just 19 points during a resounding 6-0 6-1 victory on Margaret Court Arena.

The Spaniard, who saved a match point in the second round against former US Open champion Bianca Andreescu, spent much of her first encounter against a top-10 player overwhelmed by her Polish opponent's steady shot-making.

At 25, four years Swiatek's senior, Bucsa took minor consolation in the form of a service hold in the penultimate game of the contest. Moments later on match point, she steered a backhand wide to cap off what may have been the most punishing 55 minutes of her career.

"I'm glad I was really disciplined and focused on my tactics, I felt like I'm a little bit in the flow," said Swiatek, a three-time major winner, revealing that she steadies herself by concentrating on technical aspects of her game regardless if she's winning or losing.

MORE: AO 2023 women's singles draw

"I always wanted to be that kind of player who is consistent so I'm really happy that I'm kind of achieving that goal."

Swiatek, who has reached the round of 16 or better at her last four outings in Melbourne Park, recalls being "really exhausted" by this stage in years past.

But "right now I feel like it's the right place to be," she said. 

"Hopefully I'm going to continue playing solid."

Swiatek had plenty of energy for autographs after 55 minutes on court (Getty Images)

On Rod Laver Arena, 20th seed Barbora Krejcikova posted a straightforward 6-2 6-3 win over Anhelina Kalinina.

"It's just a great, great feeling that I can show my best tennis on such a court," said the Czech, who has ambitions of becoming a fixture on show courts in the future. 

"One day I would be very happy to play on these arenas from the first round on. I really love it in Australia… in general it's a very special place for me," added the 2021 Roland Garros champion, who reached the women's singles quarterfinals at AO 2022 before clinching the women's doubles crown.

"Going for my shots, trying to stay aggressive, working on trying to play good returns, good serves, start the rallies really well and I was able to do that. I think with every single match, I'm getting better and better."

Over on Kia Arena, 2022 Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina eliminated 13th seed Danielle Collins 6-2 5-7 6-2 to reach the round of 16 at Melbourne Park for the first time.

While her win over Collins marked the first time she had been stretched to three sets this week, the 22nd seed said it was perhaps her best performance of 2023.

"[In] this match, [I] was really solid from the beginning till the end," said the 23-year-old.

"[My serve] is my weapon, it helped me a lot in the important moments," added Rybakina, who won 82 per cent of first serve points and conceded just one break.

Rybakina's serve helped to send last year's runner-up Collins packing (Getty Images)

In the fourth round, Rybakina meets defending Roland Garros champion Swiatek in the first clash between two reigning Grand Slam winners since Ash Barty bested Krejcikova in 2021.  

And on 1573 Arena, 17th seed Jelena Ostapenko manoeuvred past Ukraine's Kateryna Baindl 6-3 6-0 to set up a tantalising fourth round against Coco Gauff.

The 2017 Roland-Garros champion pounded 37 winners to Baindl's six, but landed just 54 per cent of her first serves in, a statistic the Latvian will aim to improve on Sunday.