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Australian Open: Pegula ousts Sakkari; Krejcikova sets up QF clash vs Keys

Melbourne : Jessica Pegula, the No.21 seed from the United States, secured a quarterfinal berth for the second consecutive year at the Australian Open defeating No.5 seed Maria Sakkari of Greece 7-6(0), 6-3, while compatriot Madison Keys cruised into her third career quarterfinal here with an assertive 6-3, 6-1 win over No.8 seed Paula Badosa of Spain.Also, Czech Republic’s Barbora Krejcikova, the 2021 French Open champion and No.4 seed here, defeated two-time Australian Open champion and No.24 seed Victoria Azarenka of Belarus 6-2, 6-2 to secure a quarterfinal berth. She will take on Keys for a place in the last-four.Pegula had made a surprise run to her first Grand Slam quarterfinal in Melbourne last year as an unseeded player ranked world No.61. Having since broken into the top-20, the American matched her 2021 result with a one-hour and 35-minute victory over the eight-ranked Sakkari.

“It was a little hot out there today, so I didn’t really want to kind of play a lot of long points,” Pegula was quoted as saying by after her win on Sunday. “I thought I really had to step up and be aggressive when I had the chances to. Luckily I was able to capitalize on that pretty well today and play a pretty clean match, I think.”I know that she’s always going to fight and compete well,” added Pegula. “Obviously I know that I need to step up and take my chances. She did start to play better at the end. She started serving better. In that last game she made me earn it, which is what I thought would happen.”Pegula had never beaten a top-10 player until she upset Elina Svitolina of Ukraine to win her fourth-round match in Melbourne last year. By the end of 2021, she had seven top-10 wins.Pegula, who earned her eighth career top-10 victory on Sunday, denied Sakkari a chance to become the first Greek woman to reach the AO quarters. Sakkari was also seeking her third Grand Slam quarterfinal appearance in the last four major events.

Keys dominated from start to finish in her 6-3, 6-1 win over No.8 seed Badosa, advancing to her eighth career Grand Slam quarterfinal and first in Australia since 2018. The Spaniard never led in the 69-minute-long contest.”I’m really happy with how I played today. I think I served a lot better than I did in the last match. I think I returned well. I think overall I just started off either neutral or kind of ahead in the point. I had a lot of opportunities to try to move forward,” Keys said.”I think just my mindset really let me play that good tennis. That’s really what I’ve been trying to focus on, just giving myself the opportunity to allow myself to play tennis like I did today.”
Keys was all praise for her quarterfinal opponent Krejcikova. “I think she’s kind of just making tennis look easy. It seems like no matter what people are doing, she very quickly figures it out and has another game plan to quickly implement,” she said.”Then I think the other thing about her is that she’s also an incredible doubles player. She moves forward so naturally that I feel like if you give her the opportunity, she’s just on top of you all of a sudden, then she’s at the net. Obviously, it’s not easy to pass her… an incredibly difficult matchup.”



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