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Sebastian Korda in 1st Grand Slam quarterfinal Jessica Pegula eyes 1st Grand Slam semifinal at Australian Open Azarenka beats Lin to reach Australian Open quarterfinals

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MELBOURNE, Australia. It didn’t go smoothly for Sebastian Korda at the Australian Open. Early deficit against a higher seeded opponent. Some sort of presentation. Tie-break in the fifth set, full of mistakes by both players.

At the end – the very end – it was Korda, a 22-year-old American who earned a place in his first Grand Slam quarter-final by scoring the last three points and beating No. 10 Hubert Hurkacs 3-6, 6-. 3, 6-2, 1-6, 7-6 (10-7).

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“Those are the hardest points to win…the last three,” said Korda, whose father, Piotr, won the 1998 Australian Championship. “They’re cruel in a way.”

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The younger Korda made it a habit to reach out and press the signs for titles won by his father and mentor Andre Agassi in the hallway leading to the court at the Rod Laver Arena.

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“Every time I pass by, I always… lightly punch my fist,” Korda said. “In a way, it makes me feel like they are with me. I always know what they are watching. They are both very special to me. They helped me a lot.”

Korda’s mother was also a professional tennis player, and his two older sisters are professional golfers. They followed a guy called “Seby” on TV from the US during the Australian Open despite the 16-hour time difference between the East Coast and Melbourne.

“I just talked to them on the phone,” Korda said of his parents. They will try to go to sleep.

The victory followed Korda’s third round victory over 2021 US Open champion Daniil Medvedev, who was runner-up at Melbourne Park each of the past two years.

No. 29 Korda will play No. 18 Karen Khachanov for a place in the semi-finals. In the other quarter-final in the top half of the bracket, Jiří Lehecka will play against No. 3 Stefanos Tsitsipas, who beat No. 15 Yannick Sinner 6–4, 6–4, 3–6, 4–6, 6–3 in 4 hours.

“It felt like I had spent a century on this court playing tennis. It felt so long,” said Tsitsipas, who also defeated Skinner in Australia a year ago. “What a wonderful night. That was great”.

Korda was one of four Americans to reach the fourth round, along with Ben Shelton, JJ Wolf and Tommy Paul.

“It’s amazing,” Korda said. “We have a great group coming up. I think we can do something special in the next couple of years.”

Khachanov, last year’s US Open semi-finalist, eliminated Yoshihito Nishioka 6-0, 6-0, 7-6 (4). Lehecca arrived in Australia with a career record of 0-4 in Grand Slams but is now in the quarter-finals after beating No. 6 Felix Auger-Aliassime 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(2), 7-6 . (3).

“I’m sure we’ll see more of him in the future,” Auger-Aliassime said.

While Novak Djokovic, whose fourth-round matchup against Australian Alex di Minaura, is the only man left with a Grand Slam title – and he has 21 of them, nine at Melbourne Park – Tsitsipas is the only other last major tournament finalist to still exists.

He finished second to Djokovic at Roland Garros in 2021 and reached the semi-finals three times in Australia.

Tsitsipas, the 24-year-old from Greece, looked amazing against Sinner in straight sets on Sunday night, something less amazing in straight sets, and then stormed to victory with a 4-2 lead in the fifth.

“Remained very calm, like Mr. Rod Laver in his day,” Tsitsipas said, calling out the namesake of the stadium who was present at the stadium.

Korda against Gurkach reached a 1-10 tie-break, a 2 win that is now used in all major tournaments in the fifth sets of men’s matches and the third sets of women’s. Both players looked tight, neither was able to achieve much on the way to victory, and the fluctuation in the score was as wild as it could be.

Gurkacz, whose victory over Roger Federer at Wimbledon in 2021 was the final match of the 20-time Grand Slam singles champion, took a 3-1 lead. Korda then scored six points in a row to take a 7-3 lead. And then Hurkach took four in a row and equalized the score to 7-all.

It was then, however, that Korda showed up with some of his best deliveries of the day.

An overhead that ended a 20-stroke exchange and resulted in Hurkacs knocking over the back court serve rate display made the score 8-7. The 117 mph (188 km/h) serve winner made it 9–7. And he completed the game with a winning pass from the left, who scored 27 shots.

“There were many times when I could just completely lose him. I lost a couple of points a bit,” said Korda, whose coach Radek Stepanek repeatedly jumped up from his seat in the stands. “But I just stuck with it, tried to be as positive as I could. Especially in relation to the whole fifth, that was my only goal.”

MELBOURNE, Australia. At the draw ceremony for the season-ending WTA Finals in October, the host called Jessica Pegula to the front of the room and asked the 28-year-old American about her championship at an event in Mexico a few days ago. previously.

He called it the “biggest title” of her career. Pegula politely corrected him, “The biggest title so far,” she said, emphasizing the last two words.

Pegula chuckled when asked about the exchange during an interview with The Associated Press.

“I didn’t mean to say it, but it’s good that I said it,” she said. “This is my biggest title so far, so it’s fact and truth, but also hopefully definitely not the last.”

Pegula has had a tortuous path in professional tennis and is looking to win her most significant trophy at the Australian Open. When she takes to the court to face 2012-2013 champion Victoria Azarenka, Pegula will appear in the quarter-finals for the third year in a row at Melbourne Park – and the fifth time overall at a major in the past 24 months.

Pegula No. 3 is the highest seeded woman left, with No. 1 Iga Sviatek and No. 2 Ons Jaber eliminated.

“I have a great shot here. … In everything, throughout the entire tournament, I played the best,” she said after defeating 2021 French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova 7-5, 6-2 in the fourth round.

Pegula relies on amazing returns (she won a tournament-record 64% of games served by opponents) and strong defense. She uses flat shots for the right and left (she has 61% of the points played at the base line, so far she is in second place).

“She plays quite simply, which I would say is a compliment,” Azarenka said, comparing this aspect of Pegula’s approach to former No. 1 Ash Barty, who “just did certain things so well, over and over and over again. ”

Pegula is 0-4 so far in the Slam quarterfinals, losing to Jennifer Brady at the 2021 Australian Open, Barty at the 2022 Australian Open and Swiatek at the 2022 French Open and 2022 US Open.

“I think I’m currently the favorite in terms of seeding,” Pegula said. – I would say that the sensations are different.

And that’s a far cry from her difficult times over the past decade. In 2013, she had a knee problem that required surgery, but she dealt with it and made her Grand Slam main draw debut at the 2015 US Open, defeating 2009 US Open quarter-finalist Melanie Udin in the last round of qualifying.

Another health setback followed: hip surgery that sidelined Pegula for over half of 2017, dropping her ranking to 860 and sending her to lower-level ITF tournaments.

She regrouped again and returned, claiming her first WTA title in Washington in 2019. This came shortly after she began working with former Venus Williams coach David Witt, who pointed out how Pegula “began to believe in herself more than she belongs. up there.”

At the Grand Slam, Pegula endured a seven-match losing streak that ended with a third-round appearance at the 2020 US Open, and five months later she made her first major quarter-final in Australia.

More moves followed — she called them “mini-breakthroughs” — including a top 10 hit last year.

“I was like, ‘Wow, I broke through’ because I didn’t have a good Slam album. Then, after that, it was… to win my first WTA tournament. It was a big event,” Pegula said. “So there are all these little… milestones, I think you could name them. I think it just kept building my confidence as I moved forward. I wouldn’t say it was some huge turning point.”

Another could happen this week: the Pegula-Azarenka winner will face whoever makes it out of the quarter-finals between 2022 Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina and 2017 French Open champion Elena Ostapenko.

Matches of the fourth round of the lower half of the grid were distributed as follows: Arina Sobolenko against Belinda Bencic, Donna Vekic against Linda Fruhvirtova, Carolina Garcia against Magda Lynette and Karolina Pliskova against Zhang Shuai.

MELBOURNE, Australia. Two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka returned to the quarter-finals at Melbourne Park for the first time since 2016, defeating Zhu Lin 4–6, 6–1, 6–4.

“I really focused on staying patient, staying focused on myself,” said Azarenka, 33, who won the Australian title in 2012 and 2013, “because it was very, very easy to lose that patience, to lose control of myself.” . because it was very difficult there.

The third set began with six consecutive service breaks before Zhu finally held on first to take a 4-3 lead.

But Azarenka, number 24, has won the last three games. She held, then broke and went 5-4 up when Zhu landed a right hand into the net.

Azarenka ran into two break points while trying to serve for the win. She managed to save both and after 2 hours and 40 minutes of play, she won the cross court on the right.

“It upset me a little, I won’t lie. I probably didn’t show it, but I was a little upset, because “when will she turn in my direction?” Azarenka said. “At some point I had to say to myself…


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