The Apia International women’s draw has been blown open after top seed Angelique Kerber was upset by Russian young gun Daria Kasatkina on Tuesday.
The world No.1 was lacklustre in a 7-6(2) 6-2 loss in 90 minutes at Ken Rosewall Arena.
“The first matches of the year are always tough, and I still not feel my rhythm. I make too many mistakes. I was not feeling the ball,” Kerber said.
“The balls are flying here a little bit different than in Brisbane. So it was not so easy, but I will try to forget the match as soon as I can.”
But that takes nothing away from Kasatkina’s performance; the 19-year-old, who rose up the ranks in 2016 to hit a career-high ranking of No.24, was impressive in the straight-sets victory.
Leading 3-2 with a break in the second set, Kasatkina fought off three break points in the sixth game to push ahead 4-2.
From there, Kerber’s resistance crumbled. She was broken again in the seventh game before Kasatkina served out the match.
Last week in Brisbane Kasatkina stretched reigning Roland Garros champion Garbine Muguruza to 9-7 in a third-set tiebreak in a thrilling second-round match.
And this week in Sydney she got over the line against one of the game’s biggest names to seal a quarterfinal spot.
“First, my thought was, finally, I made a match point, because I lose few good matches from the match point last year and this year already,” Kasatkina laughed.
“For me, it was important. This match was very important for me.
“I was three matches from match point against top 10 players, and today I beat No.1 in the world. So I think I am somewhere close (to the level of the top 10).”
There she will meet No.6 seed Johanna Konta, who beat Daria Gavrilova in the second round earlier on Tuesday.
“She has a good serve, good backhand. She doesn’t have so many weakness,” Kasatkina said of Konta.
“It will be good match. And again, up against top-10 player. I’m happy, because it’s good to start the season when you play against the best so you can see where is your level. Good preparation for Australian Open.”