Krejcikova dumps injured Azarenka to reach quarter-finals
IMAGE: The Czech Republic’s Barbora Krejcikova plays a forehand shot against Victoria Azarenka at the Australian Open, in Melbourne, on Sunday.Photograph: Daniel Pockett/Getty Images
Fourth seed Barbora Krejcikova saw off the challenge from an injury-hampered Victoria Azarenka to reach the Australian Open quarter-finals for the first time on Sunday, defeating the former world number one 6-2, 6-2.
Azarenka, who won back-to-back titles at Melbourne Park in 2012 and 2013, received treatment to the left side of her neck and shoulder early in the second set and needed regular assistance from the trainer during changeovers.
French Open winner Krejcikova, who had lost their only previous meeting in 2020, did not let her 32-year-old opponent’s struggles affect her focus and sealed the victory on Rod Laver Arena when Azarenka found the net with a return.
IMAGE: Czech Republic’s Barbora Krejcikova shakes hands with Victoria Azarenka of Belarus after winning her fourth round singles match. Photograph: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images
“It was really amazing because she’s a champion here,” Krejcikova, who hit 23 winners and broke her opponent five times, said on court. “I have a lot of respect for her. I really admire her.
“I’m extremely happy I won today, doing everything to get this win. I was really preparing for this, actually for a dream like this to play on such a court and play a champion.”
“I felt she was a favourite to the match. I was just enjoying the match and trying to play my best tennis.”
“Wow, I’m in the quarter-finals.”
The Czech had never previously gone past the second round at the Australian Open. She will next meet Madison Keys after the former US Open finalist defeated eighth-seeded Spaniard Paulo Badosa 6-3, 6-1 earlier.
Keys downs Badosa to make quarter-finals
IMAGE: The United States’ Madison Keys plays a forehand during her fourth round singles match against Spain’s Paula Badosa. Photograph: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images
Madison Keys continued her resurgence by reaching the quarter-finals of the Australian Open with a 6-3, 6-1 win over eighth seed Paulo Badosa at Rod Laver Arena.
Former US Open finalist Keys, who has slipped to 51st in the world rankings, booked her place in the last eight of a Grand Slam for the first time since the 2019 French Open with a comprehensive win over the Spaniard.
“I’m so happy to be back, I was so sad to miss last year and this amazing crowd and this amazing court,” said Keys, who was absent from the 2021 tournament due to COVID-19.
Keys, who rose to seventh in the world in 2016, has reached the quarter-finals twice before in Melbourne, defeating Venus Williams to advance to the semis in 2015 but losing to Angelique Kerber at this stage three years later.
IMAGE: Spain’s Paula Badosa reacts during her fourth round match against Madison Keys. Photograph: Morgan Sette/Reuters
The American took control early on Sunday, breaking her opponent in her first service game and closing out the set in 32 minutes having put Badosa’s serve under constant pressure.
The players traded breaks in the opening two games of the second set before Keys broke Badosa twice more as the Spaniard started to struggle in the heat.
Badosa’s difficulties continued as Keys broke her for a third time in the set to advance to the next round, where she will face either Barbora Krejcikova or Victoria Azarenka.
“I think I served pretty well and I think I returned really well, so I think off of the first ball I had a little bit of the advantage on a lot of the points and was able to dictate,” said Keys.
“I knew that I was going to have to take my chances and go for it because if I gave her an inch she was going to take it.”
Pegula rekindles Melbourne Park love affair to reach quarters
IMAGE: Jessica Pegula celebrates winning her fourth round match against Greece’s Maria Sakkari. Photograph: Asanka Brendon Ratnayake/Reuters
Jessica Pegula rekindled her love affair with Melbourne Park by dumping Greek fifth seed Maria Sakkari out of the Australian Open 7-6(0), 6-3 to reach the quarter-finals for a second straight year.
Under a blazing sun at Margaret Court Arena, Pegula’s stonewall defence left the hard-hitting Sakkari a hot mess and the American only grew in confidence as the match went on.
After Sakkari crumbled to lose the first set tiebreak 7-0, Pegula began swinging hard at the Greek’s serve and was rewarded with an early break in the second.
Sakkari battled to save a match point as Pegula served out but sent a defensive backhand wide to concede the match.
“That definitely was the best match I’ve played this year, this tournament for sure,” said the 21st seed.
“I was glad I was able to bring it today … I thought I returned really well, I really from the start wanted to put a lot of pressure on her serve.
“I knew I had to just take my chances but also be patient.”
Barty fends off Anisimova to reach quarter-finals
IMAGE: Australia’s Ashleigh Barty celebrates winning her fourth round match against Amanda Anisimova of the United States. Photograph: Asanka Brendon Ratnayake/Reuters
Home hero Ash Barty will play an Australian Open quarter-final for the fourth straight year after defeating emerging talent Amanda Anisimova 6-4, 6-3.
The world number one was able to handle a spirited challenge from the American, proving the steadier player on key points through the 74-minute contest at Rod Laver Arena.
Although Barty had her stunning streak of 63 straight service holds broken, her ability to absorb the power of her 20-year-old rival and draw errors proved critical.
Seeking to become the first local since Chris O’Neil in 1978 to win the Australian Open, Barty will play another American in Jessica Pegula on Wednesday for a spot in the semi-finals.
Barty praised Anisimova, who she defeated in a semi-final at Roland Garros in 2019 on the way to winning the French Open.
“She’s an incredible athlete, an incredible competitor, one of her best attributes is she turns up point after point after point,” she said in her on-court interview.
“It’s just nice to see her back playing her best tennis. She’s going to be in a lot of deep stages of a lot of majors in her future, that’s for sure.
Of her own game, she added, “It was nice to be able to hold firm and bring the points back into my patterns more regularly and the big ones when it mattered most.”