Paula Badosa, Victoria Azarenka, Maria Sakkari all out as Keys, Krejcikova and Pegula progress to AO quarters
Madison Keys ended 2021 by not reaching a single hard-court quarter-final in two seasons, but surprisingly won the Adelaide 250 tournament earlier this month and has continued her fine form by brushing aside Paula Badosa. Also, Barbora Krejcikova knocks out two-time AO champion Victoria Azarenka in straight sets and Jessica Pegula beats Maria Sakkari.
Highlights: Keys produces stunning win over Badosa to reach quarters
"I'm so glad I'm back and that I have another match to play here," Keys said after the match.
"I think I served pretty well and I returned really well. Off of the first ball I had a little bit of the advantage on a lot of the points and then was able to dictate.
"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."
Keys' aggression from the baseline was almost unstoppable for Badosa to contain in the first set and the American raced into a 3-0 lead. Keys hit 16 winners and made only eight unforced errors as she wrapped it up in 33 minutes.
Both players engaged in a lengthy tussle in the opening game of the second set, but Keys was able to secure a vital break on her fifth break point as Badosa fired a loose backhand into the net.
Badosa was able to break straight back in the next game but then went behind again in the third game, double faulting to hand Keys a 2-1 lead.
After holding her own service game, Keys sealed the double break with a vicious return of serve that Badosa could not return. With Sydney 250 champion Badosa visibly tiring, Keys reeled off the next two games in style.
PEGULA SURGES PAST SUBDUED SAKKARI
Highlights: Pegula overcomes Sakkari in latest upset
Jessica Pegula produces a surprise 7-6(0) 6-3 win over No 5 seed Maria Sakkari to reach the Australian Open quarter-finals for the second year in a row.
The No 21 seed was having far more joy on her first serve and played with greater power and intensity from the baseline than Sakkari who did not perform at her usual level.
Pegula made just 17 unforced errors wrapped up the win in one hour and 37 minutes. She believes it was her best performance this year.
"That was definitely the best match I've played this year," she said.
"I'm glad I was able to bring it today and keep my stats up pretty well and I think it showed. I've had a lot of tough matches. I was really excited to player here today and with the fans it's so much more fun.
"I thought I returned really well. From the start I wanted to put pressure on her serve and I think it worked really well.
"I knew I wasn't going to out-grind her. She's an unbelievable athlete and way better at that than me. I knew I had to take my chances but also be patient, be as smart as I could and I was glad I could do that."
The 27-year-old American twice went a break down to the Greek player in the opening set, but both times Pegula responded and forced a tie-break which she remarkably won with seven points in a row as Sakkari made 18 unforced errors in the opener.
Sakkari looked subdued, playing with nowhere near her normal amount of aggression, and Pegula capitalised on Sakkari's lacklustre hitting in the second set, breaking to go 3-1 up before comfortably holding onto her service games to progress to the last eight.
'EXTREMELY HAPPY' KREJCIKOVA KNOCKS OUT AZARENKA
Highlights: Krejcikova overcomes Azarenka in straight sets
Krejcikova is into her first ever Australian Open singles quarter-finals after breezing past Victoria Azarenka 6-2 6-2.
The reigning French Open champion needed one hour and 22 minutes to reach the last eight against her Belarusian opponent who won her first Australian Open title 10 years ago.
Krejcikova was delighted to overcome the 2012 and 2013 Australian Open champion.
"She is a champion here so she likes this court," she said. "She is very experienced on this court and I have a lot of respect for her and really admire her. She is such a good player. I'm extremely happy that I won today.
"I was just doing everything to get this win and I was really preparing for the dream like this to play on such a court and play a champion. It's hard to find words."
'I'm still shaking' - Krejcikova delighted to beat former AO champion Azarenka
After a lengthy third game in the opening set, a fine lob from Krejcikova saw the Czech player go a break up in the opening set after 17 minutes and she did look back after that as she won four of the next five games without conceding a single break point. Krejcikova hit 12 winners and made just six unforced errors to storm to a 6-2 lead.
With Azarenka struggling with a neck injury, the No 4 seed then quickly went a break up in the opening game of the second set with a blistering return of serve.
Azarenka, who had lost just nine games in her opening three matches, then had a medical timeout to tend to her neck issue and the discomfort was clear to see when the set progressed.
The Belarusian broke back to 2-2 before the Czech went up a break again after the No 24 seed double faulted.
Azarenka continued to struggle on her serve and she double faulted again at 4-2 down to gift Krejcikova the double break before sealing a straightforward victory.
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