Aryna Sabalenka upped her 2023 mark to 8-0 and 16-0 in sets coming from a break down to defeat Belinda Bencic 7-5, 6-2 to reach her very first Australian Open quarterfinal.
The Belarussian got down 4-2 to the Swiss before running off 11 of the last 14 games. She finished with 4 aces to 4 double faults in this all-Top 10 match.
“Super happy with the win and the level today on court,” Sabalenka said. “She’s unbelievable player. I didn’t start well in the beginning, but was able to come back in the match. Super happy with the mindset on court.”
Sabalenka now will face her nemesis in Donna Vekic. The Croat dismissed 17-year-old Czech Linda Fruhvirtova by overpowering the teen for a 6-2, 1-6, 6-3 victory. Vekic fired 7 aces while Fruhvirtova tossed in 11 double faults.
“I knew I had to, one, bring my best level, and two, try to stay with her even if things didn’t go my way at some point, which they didn’t,” Vekic said. “I knew I just had to fight until the end and believe that I can win.”
Vekic has won five of six from Sabalenka.
“All of our matches have been really tough, so I’m sure next one will be, as well,” Vekic said, looking ahead to Sabalenka. “I’m just going to take it one match at a time, just really focus on that match. First, not think that it’s quarterfinals, because it’s a big match for us both.”
Caroline Garcia’s Australian Open bid came to end to Magda Linette. The Pole knocked out the world No. 4 in convincing fashion 7-6(3), 6-4.
The 30-year-old Linette has now authored three straight upsets over seeds en route to her first ever Grand Slam quarterfinal.
“I wasn’t that completely far away,” Linette said of reaching a Slam second week. “In Wimbledon, I was quite close one year to get through to the second week when I was kind of having a break up in the third set against Paula. When I was at the Roland Garros, I was set up against Ons. I’ve been in the third rounds for so many times that I knew I’m capable.
“Then when I start beating players like Ash Barty and then Ons, that kind of gave me an extra kick that really showed me that I can really go far in those tournaments. I think it was more frustrating than I would wonder or worry about it. I think it was just more frustration why I can’t do it.”
Linette will now face the big-serving former Australian Open semifinalist Karolina Pliskova who powered past Shuai Zhang 6-0, 6-4. Pliskova served 12 aces in the victory.
On Tuesday, the quarterfinals kick-off with former champion Victoria Azarenka meeting the highest remaining seed Jessica Pegula. In the day, Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina takes on former French winner Jelena Ostapenko. Both pulled huge upsets in the last round.
“It doesn’t really feel like I’m the highest left, even though I guess that’s a cool stat,” Pegula said. “I look at the draw and there’s still girls today [Ostapenko] she won French Open, you have Rybakina who won Wimbledon last year, you have Vika who does really well here. It feels like there’s still a long ways to go, to be honest.”
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