The Australian Open was rocked by unthinkable chaos on Thursday as two of Ash Barty's biggest rivals went crashing out in the third round.
Third and sixth seeds Garbine Muguruza and Anett Kontaveit were both dumped out within minutes of each other in a major shock for the tournament.
The Spaniard and Estonian were both considered major contenders to win the title after some brilliant form in 2021 culminated in them playing for the title at the season-ending WTA Finals.
However the draw has now opened up for Barty in a major way, with two of her main rivals out of the picture.
Just minutes after Kontaveit suffered a 6-2 6-4 loss to 19-year-old Clara Tauson of Denmark, Muguruza went down to French veteran Alize Cornet 6-3 6-3.
Muguruza became the fifth former grand slam champion to be dumped out in the first week, joining Sofia Kenin, Angelique Kerber, Petra Kvitova and Sloane Stephens.
The extraordinary upsets left tennis fans and commentators in shock.
"Women's tennis remains a wide-open place," tweeted journalist Christopher Clarey.
Women's tennis remains a wide-open place
Back to back upsets in the second round of the Australian Open as Clara Tauson beats No. 6 seed Anett Kontaveit 6-2 6-4 and French veteran Alizé Cornet beats No. 3 Garbiñe Muguruza 6-3, 6-3
Muguruza with two double faults in final game pic.twitter.com/UK7c31iVbs
— Christopher Clarey 🇺🇸 🇫🇷 🇪🇸 (@christophclarey) January 20, 2022
Out before R3:
What is going on.
— Petras R1 prize money (@lgbtkvitova) January 20, 2022
Say it ain't so: Muguruza follows Kontaveit out the door, losing 3-6 3-6 to Cornet https://t.co/VgTGv1PBke
— The Body Serve Tennis Podcast (@TheBodyServe) January 20, 2022
That's a big moment in the women's draw. Muguruza and Kontaveit exit within minutes of each other.#AusOpen
— Crosscourt View (@crosscourtview) January 20, 2022
— Lee Fergusson #FBPE #FBPA (@LeeFergusson) January 20, 2022
Wow Muguruza and Kontaveit both out in straight sets. Definitely surprising for two players that had potential to win this title. #AusOpen
— Brandon C. DeMuro🎙 (@BrandonDeMuro) January 20, 2022
I cannot believe Kontaveit and Muguruza are both about to lose..... 🥺 #AusOpen2022
— Oni Banks (@EmpressOni) January 20, 2022
Australian Open rocked by shocking upsets
A junior champion at Melbourne Park three years ago, Tauson could barely believe it after sending Kontaveit packing.
After gate-crashing the world's top 10 for the first time, Kontaveit reached the semi-finals of last year's season-ending championships in Mexico and opened 2022 with a run to the last four in Sydney last week.
But Tauson blew the Estonian off the court to enhance the 19-year-old's reputation as the new Great Dane of tennis following the retirement of 2019 Australian Open champion and former World No.1 Caroline Wozniacki.
"I didn't really go into this match with a winning thought and I was just so happy to be here," Tauson said.
"Anett has been playing well the last few months. I was just going in to see where my level was at and here I am."
Muguruza's exit opens the door for Cornet and US Open champion Emma Radacanu as the new favourites to emerge as the quarter-finalist from their pocket of the draw.
While Kontaveit and Muguruza crashed out, Polish seventh seed Iga Swiatek progressed to the third round with a straight-sets victory over Rebecca Peterson.
Swiatek needed only an hour and 17 minutes to see off Swede Rebecca Peterson 6-2 6-2.
The 2020 French Open champion has dropped only seven games en route to the last 32.
"Grand slams are never easy so I wanted to start with a little confidence and these two matches have given me a lot," Swiatek said.
"I'm finding my rhythm and I love it here."
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 20, 2022
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