Melbourne: Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza became the biggest casualty of the Australian Open so far – stunned by Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-Wei in straight sets yesterday.
The third seed, whose preparation was hampered by a thigh injury, was always trailing against the world number 88 before being edged out 7-6 (7/1), 6-4 in one hour and 59 minutes on Rod Laver Arena.
Two-time Grand Slam champion Muguruza struggled from the start to keep pace with the tenacious 32-year-old whose last WTA Tour singles title came at Guangzhou back in 2012.
The tall Spaniard had a medical timeout at 2-5 in the first set and after having a foot re-taped looked briefly regalvanised.
Muguruza broke back twice but Hsieh, who works closely with former Australian Open tournament director Paul McNamee, ran away with the tiebreak 7-1.
Muguruza saved a first match point in the second set to get back to 5-4 but Hsieh made no mistake in the next game.
Hsieh, whose previous best at Melbourne Park was a last-16 defeat to Justine Henin 10 years ago, goes on to meet 26th seed Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland in the third round.
World number 123 Bernarda Pera sent ninth seed Johanna Konta tumbling out of the second round with a 6-4 7-5 upset.
A lacklustre serving display from the British number one allowed left-hander Pera ample opportunity to showcase her powerful returns off both sides and the 23-year-old American duly delivered.
A single break of serve for 5-4 was enough to sew up the first set after 39 minutes when Konta sent a backhand long and lucky loser Pera was soon over the Briton’s
serve in the second.
Konta, a semi-finalist at Melbourne Park in 2016 and quarter-finalist last year, saved four match points but Pera was not to be denied and set up a meeting with Barbora Strycova when the Briton fluffed an overhead volley.
Meanwhile, aggressive world number one Simona Halep kept her quest for a maiden Grand Slam title on course by cruising into the third round.
The Romanian top seed needed just an hour and five minutes to sweep to an easy 6-2, 6-2 victory over struggling Eugenie Bouchard.
Angelique Kerber celebrated her 30th birthday yesterday by setting up a mouth-watering clash between the only two former Australian Open champions left in the draw.
The 21st seed, champion here two years ago, will face 2008 winner Maria Sharapova in tomorrow’s glamour clash after beating Croat Donna Vekic 6-4, 6-1 in an hour and 10 minutes.
Sharapova was equally impressive in beating 14th seed Anastasija Sevastova 6-1, 7-6 (7/4) on Rod Laver Arena.
Wawrinka upset – Page 23