The women's draw at the Australian Open has suddenly got very interesting after both Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka were knocked out. Charles Perrin has the details... .
"The American is box office and she is taking things in her stride."
The Australian Open women's tournament sprung into life on Friday after two big betting shocks. Serena Williams was the first major casualty as she fell in the third round to Wang Qiang before Naomi Osaka was stunned by Coco Gauff in straight sets.
While there are still a handful of top seeds in the mix for the title, things have got very exciting Down Under.
1.071/14 Serena shocked by Wang
The 38-year-old American was below par against Wang who produced the performance of her life to reach the last 16 of the Australian Open for the first time in her career. Williams clocked up 56 unforced errors and her backhand let her down too. Indeed, it was a backhand that Williams dumped into the net which enabled Wang - who had spurned two match points before that - advance.
Williams - who was the favourite before the tournament at 5.004/1 and at matched at 4.2016/5 after her first round match - continues to see a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title elude her. Wang, however, is now around the 30.0029/1 mark to go all the way in Melbourne.
At the US Open last year, Williams thrashed Wang 6-1, 6-0 for the loss of just 15 points in the quarter-finals and she was faultless that day. But Williams - who was as low as 1.071/14 to progress to the fourth round - was a pale shadow of herself against Wang, who was an outsider at 15.50.
Williams couldn't conceal her disgust after the match and labelled her performance as 'unprofessional'.
She said: "I just made far too many errors to be a professional athlete today. I'm definitely going to be training tomorrow. That's first and foremost, to make sure I don't do this again."
Gauff's star continues to shine
Of all the big storylines so far this week, the way Gauff brushed aside reigning Australian Open champion Osaka was very impressive. Gauff was able to gain revenge for her defeat against Osaka at Flushing Meadows in September and the 15-year-old sensation's star continues to shine brightly.
Gauff was excellent on serve as she won 76% of her first serves and she showed more composure on the big points. Osaka on the other hand, was slower coming out of the traps and she got frustrated very easily.
Gauff has seen her price shorten and she is now at 14.50 to win the tournament. Let's not forget that she is only competing in her third Grand Slam, but she is showing a maturity beyond her years. The American is box office and she is taking things in her stride. While she has come a long way in such a short space of time, it still remains a tough task for her to be the last one standing in Melbourne.
Danger lurks for Barty
Ash Barty is carrying the weight of expectation on her shoulders and she is aiming to become the first Aussie since Chris O'Neill in 1978 to lift the title. Bar a slight wobble in the first round where she had to recover from going a set down against Lesia Tsurenko, the 23-year-old has stepped things up.
In her third-round victory over Elena Rybakina, Barty was simply brilliant and painted brushstrokes on the court. Her ability to be patient in rallies before unleashing big winners means she will always be a force to be reckoned with.
While Barty has now been priced as the favourite at 4.507/2 with the Betfair Exchange to win the title, danger lurks around the corner in the fourth round in the form of Alison Riske. At Wimbledon, Riske got the better of Barty and while the American spent more than an hour on the court than Barty in her third round win over Julia Goerges, she has a big game. Riske may be more of a grass court specialist, but Barty can't take anything for granted.
Kvitova on fire
After coming close to lifting her first Australian Open title 12 months ago, Petra Kvitova will be desperate to go one step further. The 29-year-old - who already has two Grand Slam titles to her name - was in ominous form against Ekaterina Alexandrova as she notched up 18 winners and converted four of her six break opportunities. Kvitova takes on world No.23 Maria Sakkari in the last 16 and she can hurt her Greek opponent with her big serve and crunching forehand.
If anything, Kvitova - who is the fourth favourite to win the Australian Open at 8.007/1 - is a little undervalued as she is an experienced campaigner which will stand her in good stead in the latter stages. Although she hasn't been talked up as a contender as much as Barty or Simona Halep, she has caught fire in Melbourne and she will take a lot of stopping.