Two more top seeds took an early exit ahead of the Australian Open quarterfinals as action wrapped on Day 7.
Olympic men’s singles gold medalist Alexander Zverev and women’s singles No. 5 seed Maria Sakkari both lost in the fourth round in Melbourne on Sunday. Rafael Nadal, seeded sixth on the men’s side, and women’s No. 1 seed Ashleigh Barty made it through and will face the opponents who pulled upsets with three matches to go until champions are crowned.
Big day for Bills: Jessica Pegula pulls another upset
Jessica Pegula once again upset her opponents en route to an Australian Open quarterfinal berth. On Sunday, No. 21 seed took down No. 5 seed Maria Sakkari, who ranks eighth in the world, by a 7-6 (0), 6-3 mark.
Pegula, 27, reached the Australian Open quarterfinals in 2021 with upsets over Victoria Azarenka and Elina Svitolina as an unseeded player. It matches her best run at a major. The American is the daughter of Terry and Kim Pegula, the owners of the NFL’s Buffalo Bills. The Bills play the Kansas City Chiefs in the Divisional Round of the playoffs on Sunday night.
Pegula made 17 of 21 returns and continues the strong streak that began at last year’s Australian Open. It was her eighth career top-10 win; she had never notched one until the 2021 competition in Melbourne.
“That definitely was the best match I’ve played this year, you know, this tournament for sure,” Pegula said. “I’m glad I was able to bring it today and keep my stats pretty well.
“I think it showed… I had a lot of really tough matches. I honestly was just really excited to play today.”
Sakkari was aiming to be the first Greek woman to reach an Australian Open final. She has reached the quarterfinals in the last three majors before Melbourne.
Pegula will face No. 1 seed Ashleigh Barty.
The Australian is into her fourth straight quarterfinal on her home soil with a 6-4, 6-3 win against American Amanda Anisimova in 74 minutes. She is still seeking to become the first home women’s champion since Chris O’Neil in 1978. In her three quarterfinal appearances so far, she’s failed to reach the semifinals twice and has never reached the final.
Barty, 25, had three double-faults, including two in a row, and 17 unforced errors, but delivered 23 winners. She has yet to drop a set.
Also through is Barbora Krejčíková, the No. 4 seed. She dispatched two-time champion Victoria Azarenka 6-2, 6-2. Krejčíková won the 2021 French Open and will face American Madison Keys. Keys defeated Paula Badosa, the No. 8 seed, 6-3, 6-1.
Olympic champ Zverev upset; Nadal through to 14th quarterfinal
Zverev came in seeded third and a favorite to win the title. But the Canadian fell to 22-year-old Canadian Denis Shapovalov in a shocking three sets, 6-3, 7-6 (5), 6-3. It is his first Australian Open quarterfinal and third Grand Slam quarterfinal of all time.
“It’s always better to finish in three … this is probably the one I least expected to finish in three,” he added.
It is only the second time he’s defeated a player ranked in the tour’s top five. Shapovalov is seeded 14th and used his serve to secure the win. In the opening game of the second set, he frustrated Zverev so much the German destroyed his racket. Shapovalov had 35 winners to Zverev’s 18.
Shapovalov will face Nadal in the quarterfinal. The Spaniard clinched an early game tiebreaker that took 28 minutes and 40 seconds. It was rather smooth sailing after that as he defeated Adrian Mannarino 7-6 (14), 6-2, 6-2.
“Anything could happen there. I was a little bit lucky at the end. I had my chances, but then he had a lot of chances, too.
“His ball was very difficult to control, very fast and flat and I am very happy I survived that first set.”
Nadal is into the Australian Open quarterfinal for a 14th time.
Berrettini, Monfils meet in quarterfinal
Matteo Berrettini advanced to the quarterfinals with a 7-5, 7-6 (4), 6-4 win over Pablo Carreno Busta. His serve gave Carreno Busta trouble in the first two sets. Only 50% of them were returned.
“My serve percentage was high, which was important. I felt I had more energy going into the third set. When my serve is working it’s always good for my tennis.”
He is the 10th active player to reach the quarterfinals of all four Grand Slams in his career. It was his first straight-sets win of the tournament.
In the quarterfinal, the Italian will meet Frenchman and No. 17 seed Gael Monfils. Monfils was a 7-5, 7-6(4), 6-3 winner over Serb Miomir Kecmanovic.
The 35-year-old is playing better than ever and is in his first Australian Open quarterfinal since 2016.