Images from Day 7 of the 2023 Australian Open, at Melbourne Park, on Sunday.
IMAGE: Victoria Azarenka, two-time winner in Melbourne, celebrates winning her fourth round match against Zhu Lin in Melbourne on Sunday. Photograph: Lintao Zhang/Getty Images
Former world number one Victoria Azarenka reached her first Austalian Open quarter-final for seven years as she fended off China’s Zhu Lin 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 in the early hours of Monday.
Azarenka, twice a winner of the title in Melbourne, started slowly and lost the opening set but stormed through the second to take the fourth round match into a decider.
Neither player could hold serve in the third set but Azarenka’s greater experience finally pulled her through.
The Belarusian wobbled when serving for the match at 5-4 but hit back from 15-40 to complete the victory at 2.15am local time with an angled crosscourt backhand winner.
IMAGE: Victoria Azarenka in action during her fourth round match against Zhu Lin. Photograph: Lintao Zhang/Getty Images
Azarenka, 33, will face third-seeded American Jessica Pegula for a place in the semi-finals.
“I feel so relieved, it was complete pressure, lots of momentum shifts, there was everything in this match,” 24th seed Azarenka said on a sparsely-populated Rod Laver Arena.
“Happy I could handle everything and take my chances and went for it. I’ve had a couple of close matches this year that didn’t go my way so I’m really proud of myself.”
Looking ahead to her quarter-final she said it would be a more familiar opponent, having known liitle about Zhu Lin.
“I’ve practised a lot with Jess and I’m going to enjoy that one. If I do lose I would rather lose to Jess, but I’m going to give her hell!”
IMAGE: Kazakhstan’s Elena Rybakina celebrates winning her fourth round women’s singles match against Poland’s Iga Swiatek at the Australian Open on Sunday.Photograph: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
World number one Iga Swiatek crashed out of the Australian Open on Sunday after a 6-4, 6-4 defeat by Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina on Rod Laver Arena.
Kazakhstan’s Rybakina advanced to the quarter-finals of the season’s opening Grand Slam for the first time with an impressive display against the misfiring Pole.
“It was a really tough match and I really respect Iga because of the strike she has and the Grand Slams,” said Rybakina.
“She’s a young player and she plays really well. Today I think was serving also good, just struggling on one side.
“Then in the important moments I played really well and it made a difference.”
IMAGE: Elena Rybakina, left, and Iga Swiatek meet at the net after their fourth round match. Photograph: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
Rybakina, seeded 22nd, will face Latvia’s Jelena Ostapenko in the quarter-finals.
Swiatek, the reigning French Open and US Open champion, got off to a rough start, surrendering her opening service game after receiving a warning from the chair umpire over the time she took for her pre-match preparations.
She fought back to level the scores by the fourth game but Rybakina would break again, clinically punishing the Pole’s second serve to take the opening set.
Swiatek looked to have recovered after she rattled off three straight games at the start of the second set behind a more aggressive forehand, only for Rybakina to haul herself level with another break of serve.
The Russia-born right-hander broke Swiatek again at 4-4 in the second set before holding her own serve in convincing fashion to close out the match.
Rybakina’s win sees her progress to a third Grand Slam quarter-final having also reached the last eight at the 2021 French Open before winning Wimbledon last year.
Ostapenko knocks out Gauff to reach quarters
IMAGE: Latvia’s Jelena Ostapenko in action during her fourth round match against Coco Gauff. Photograph: Carl Recine/Reuters
Jelena Ostapenko stunned Coco Gauff 7-5, 6-3 to reach the quarter-finals after putting on a power-hitting clinic.
The Latvian has struggled to reach the heights of her French Open-winning days but the 17th seed simply overpowered the American at Margaret Court Arena.
Ostapenko was ruthless in the finish, unleashing a thumping forehand down the line to bring up match point, then clipping the line with a crosscourt forehand winner to give Gauff no chance.
The 17th seed will meet Rybakina for a place in the semi-final.