2021 Australian Open: Week One Recap

Looking back at the first week’s upsets, heavy hitters, and the government lockdown in Melbourne.

By Alex Holmes

The 2021 Australian Open has wrapped up its first week of competition, with players securing their spots for the fourth round. The first six days of action saw 15 upsets, including three of the top 10 seeds ousted before the third round. Here’s a round-by-round recap of notable events through the first week of play.

First Round

In the first round, eight of the top 32 seeds were upset. The highest seeded player eliminated was 12-seed Victoria Azarenka of Belarus, who lost to American Jessica Peluga in two sets. Peluga is one of the three remaining unseeded players left in the draw. 

The biggest upset in terms of rank was Olga Danilovic’s three-set win over 16-seed Petra Martic. In the latest world rankings, Danilovic came in at No. 183. Her stay in Melbourne didn’t last too much longer, however, after losing in the second round. 

Alison Riske (24), Shuai Zhang (31), Angelique Kerber (23), Qiang Wang (30), Maria Sakkari (20), and Johanna Konta (13) were the other top 32 seeds eliminated in their first match. 

Second Round

The second round featured half as many upsets as the first round, but it did see three of the top 10 seeds packing their bags earlier than expected.

Kaia Kanepi’s two-set win over world No. 4 and defending Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin headlined the upsets. Eighth-seeded Bianca Andreescu also fell in two sets, while ninth-seeded Petra Kvitova lost in three sets to Romanian Sorana Cirstea.

 Third Round

Only two third round matches went to three sets. The first match was between two players who have had some of the tournament’s biggest upsets.

Taiwan’s Su-Wei Hsieh, who beat Andreescu in the second round, was pitted against Italian Sara Errani, a victor over both Qiang Wang and Venus Williams in the opening two rounds. Hsieh won the opening set before Errani, ranked No. 134 in the world, tied the match at one set apiece. The third set saw Hsieh win 7-5, booking her ticket to round four.

The other three-set contest was between 28-seed Donna Vekic and upset-minded Kaia Kanepi. After losing the first set, Vekic survived a tie-break in the second set to extend the match, where she won the third set 6-4. 

World No. 1 and Australian native Ashleigh Barty cruised into the fourth round after defeating 29-seed Alexandrova in straight sets. 

Shelby Rogers became the fourth American to secure her spot in the fourth round after upsetting Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit, the tournament’s 21-seed.

Barty, Serena Williams (10), Naomi Osaka, and 2020 French Open champion Iga Swiatek (15) of Poland enter the fourth round without having ceded one set in the tournament. 

Fourth Round Preview

Competition is heating up in Melbourne, with the fourth round featuring three matches between players seeded in the top 15.

Osaka will take on Spaniard Garbiñe Muguruza, the 14-seed in the tournament. World No. 7 Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus takes on Williams, which will be the tournament’s first match between top 10 seeds. The second-ranked player in the world, Simona Halep, will face Swiatek. 


The tournament’s remaining underdogs are Hsieh, Sarah Rogers, and Jessica Pegula. At No. 71 in the world, Hsieh is the lowest-ranked player remaining in the Australian Open. In the fourth round, she will take on Czech Republic’s Marketa Vondrousova, who came into the tournament as the 19-seed. 

Americans Rogers and Pegula are ranked No. 57 and No. 61 in the world, respectively. Rogers will take her shot at Barty in the fourth round, while Pegula will play fifth-seed Elina Svitolina of Ukraine.   

Government Lockdown

On Friday, Tennis Australia announced fans would not be allowed at the Australian Open from Saturday, Feb. 13 through Wednesday, Feb. 17.

The news came after the Victorian government announced a five-day lockdown, which began Friday 11:59 P.M. local time. The lockdown is in response to a coronavirus cluster in the city.

Fans with tickets for games Saturday through Wednesday will be fully refunded. There has yet to be a decision on fan attendance for games later in the week.

Fourth round action begins Feb. 14 at 11 A.M. local time (Feb 13. At 7 P.M. EST). A full draw and schedule of events for the 2021 Australian Open is available here. Fans can watch matches on the ESPN networks or the Tennis Channel.

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