After Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka crashed out of the Australian Open before the last-16 stage of the tournament, we assess the remaining contenders.
At the halfway stage of the tournament, we know the Australian Open women’s singles will not have the winner many expected.
Tournament favorite Serena Williams crashed out of the tournament in the third round just hours before defending champion Naomi Osaka suffered the same fate on Friday.
Serena Williams has insisted she remains confident of equaling Margaret Court’s all-time Grand Slam record of 24 majors despite the shock setback against Wang Qiang.
Osaka, at 22, will know she still has every opportunity to emerge as one of the most successful players in women’s tennis in the 2020s, even though Coco Gauff humbled her in straight sets.
But after the top two pre-tournament picks were eliminated, who is being backed to go all the way at the 2020 Australian Open now?
Saturday’s action weakened the field even further, with second seed Karolina Pliskova out in straight sets against Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Garbine Muguruza dismissing fifth seed Elina Svitolina and sixth seed Belinda Bencic suffering a humiliating loss to Anett Kontaveit, who triumphed 6-0 6-1.
Gauff’s campaign then came to an end on Sunday at the hands of fellow American Sofia Kenin, who prevailed 6-7 (5-7) 6-3 6-0 as she outlasted the 15-year-old in a battle lasting over two hours.
Of the players who remain after day 7, four have booked their places in the quarterfinals, with eight more still to play their round-of-16 matchups.
As things stand, there are three players rated above the rest when it comes to the latest tournament odds and unsurprisingly the trio are the highest ranked stars still in the tournament.
Ash Barty, already in the quarterfinals, is now rated as the top favorite going into Week 2.
The Australian world number one, bidding to give her country their first singles champion at Melbourne Park since 1978, started the tournament behind Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka in the odds.
She emerged from a tough battle against Alison Riske in the fourth round on Sunday, winning 6-3 1-6 6-4.
It was a significant obstacle to pass as Barty had lost her last two matches to Riske, including an encounter at Wimbledon last year.
She may face her biggest test in the quarterfinals against Petra Kvitova, who is also safely into the last eight and comes up next in the odds.
That clash with Barty looks like it could be memorable, with two-time major winner Kvitova having made last year’s final in Melbourne and looking good this week having emerged from a three-set battle with Maria Sakkari, dropping a set for the first time.
Wimbledon champion Simona Halep is right there with those two, although she still has an extra matchup to play with her round-four meeting with Elise Mertens not taking place until Monday.
A clear gap then emerges before the remaining contenders, with Garbine Muguruza continuing to attract attention after her emphatic win over Svitolina continued a superb start to 2020, as the Spanish star looks to recover from a year to forget in 2019.
She has two Grand Slam wins in her career to date, but the player who is right there with her in the odds, Sofia Kenin, is in a Grand Slam quarterfinal for the first time as the American continues her upward trajectory. She will sense an opportunity as she faces an unseeded player next in Ons Jabeur.
Next comes Elise Mertens, who is likely to provide a stiff test to Halep, and Netherlands’ Kiki Bertens, who is yet to drop a set ahead of her round-four meeting with Muguruza and often slips under the radar despite achieving consistent results.
Three-time Grand Slam winner Angelique Kerber is still there battling and plays Pavlyuchenkova next, with Kontaveit, Jabeur and rising star Iga Swiatek rated as the biggest outsiders for glory in what looks destined to be an exciting second week of action at the Australian Open.