MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) Garbine Muguruza's rapid rise to the No. 3 ranking sharpened the focus on her run at the Australian Open, attention which only increased after No. 2-ranked Simona Halep and No. 8 Venus Williams lost in the first round in her half of the draw.
It didn't help Muguruza, though, with her 6-3, 6-2 loss to Barbora Strycova on Saturday extending a disappointing follow-up in majors since a breakthrough run to last year's Wimbledon final. She lost in the second round at the U.S. Open and her third-round exit here was worse than her two previous trips to Melbourne Park, where she reached the fourth round.
''Clearly not my best, for sure. I think today is a very bad day, you know, at the office,'' she said. ''I just couldn't find the court, my shots. Yeah. Didn't really find my game.''
Muguruza misfired frequently on her groundstrokes, finishing with 32 unforced errors, and appeared to be lethargic at stages of the match.
Strycova has only been past the third round once before in 38 Grand Slams, and that was when she reached the quarterfinals of Wimbledon in 2014.
''I will enjoy myself first because I beat No. 3 in the world,'' she said, not thinking about the round of 16 just yet.
Her loss left No. 7 Angelique Kerber as the highest-ranked player in the bottom half of the women's draw and two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka as the only multiple major winner.
Johanna Konta, who beat Venus Williams, became the first British woman to reach the fourth round at the Australian Open since Joe Durie in 1987, giving the Brits and Aussies something to celebrate.
Konta, who was born in Sydney and became a British citizen in 2012, beat Denisa Allertova 6-2, 6-2 and will next play No. 21-seeded Ekaterina Makarova, a semifinalist here last year, who had a 6-3, 6-2 win over No. 9 Karolina Pliskova.