Tennis: Poland’s Linette shocks fourth seed Garcia as eight women remain at Australian Open

Poland's Magda Linette celebrates her victory against France's Caroline Garcia. PHOTO: AFP

MELBOURNE - Caroline Garcia was knocked out of the Australian Open in the fourth round Monday by Magda Linette, becoming the latest top seed to suffer an early exit at the first Grand Slam of the year.

Poland’s Linette outfought the French world number four 7-6 (7/3), 6-4.

The 45th-ranked Linette gave a sizeable contingent of red-and-white-clad Polish fans on Rod Laver Arena plenty to cheer, just 24 hours after they witnessed countrywoman and top seed Iga Swiatek being bundled out.

Linette, 30, had never before gone past the third round at the Australian Open in six previous attempts.

She was almost overcome after reaching her maiden Grand Slam quarter-final in 1hr 57min.

“I don’t really believe it,” she said. “I still can’t believe it, I don’t know what happened. I’m speechless, really. I don’t know what to say.

“But I don’t want to say I didn’t expect it, because coming on the court I was confident in how well I’m playing,” added Linette, who has now knocked out the 19th, 16th and fourth seeds

.Garcia had endured a 2hr 10min battle just to get to the fourth round and avoid a massive upset against world number 158 Laura Siegemund.

But she started the first set well, breaking immediately, but the gritty Linette hung on and refused to lie down.

Garcia started to become more erratic and nerves kicked in as she served for the set at 5-4.

A double fault gave Linette a break-back point, the Frenchwoman saving it with a crosscourt winner.

But Linette was rewarded for her tenacity with a second chance and this time Garcia went long off a forehand.

In the tiebreak, Linette was again the more solid and took it with ease, tellingly committing just eight unforced errors in the entire set against Garcia’s mounting tally of 19.

“She’s such an amazing opponent, such a tough one, especially on the big stage,” said Linette.

“I’m just glad I stayed composed throughout the whole first set and managed to come back again.”

The second set was another tight affair, Linette grabbing the crucial break at 4-4 and serving out for one of the biggest wins of her career.

She will now face former world number one and Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic for a place in the semi-final after the 30th seed served 12 aces in a 55-minute straight-sets romp against Chinese veteran Zhang Shuai.

Meanwhile, Donna Vekic ended Linda Fruhvirtova’s fairytale Australian Open in the fourth round on Monday, eventually overcoming the 17-year-old 6-2, 1-6, 6-3.

Croatia’s unseeded Vekic plays fifth-seeded Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus for a place in the semi-finals at Melbourne Park.

The other two quarter-finals will see Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan take on Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia, and third seed Jessica Pegula of the United States take on Victoria Azarenka of Belarus. AFP

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