MELBOURNE (Reuters) – French Open winner Barbora Krejcikova continued her “magical” run of form by taking down an injury-hampered Victoria Azarenka 6-2 6-2 to reach the Australian Open quarter-finals for the first time on Sunday.
The 26-year-old had never gone past the second round at Melbourne Park but is seeded fourth this year. She was ranked outside the world’s top 100 until October 2020 but has shown incredible consistency to climb the ladder.
“It’s just something special and magical,” Krejcikova told reporters. “Couple (of) years ago I wasn’t even top 100. Now I’m here and I’m playing on the biggest stadiums with the champions. I’m actually able to beat them.
“I’m just trying to enjoy everything that is happening, how I do things on the court. It’s amazing that I can say that I’m a quarter-finalist right now.”
Azaraneka’s defeat means the Australian Open will have a new women’s singles champion this year.
The Belarusian, 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.
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.
“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.”
Krejcikova will next meet Madison Keys after the former U.S. Open finalist defeated eighth-seeded Spaniard Paulo Badosa 6-3 6-1.
(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly; Editing by Peter Rutherford)