No. 22 Elena Rybakina toppled No. 1 Iga Swiatek 6-4, 6-4 on Sunday to advance to the quarterfinals at the Australian Open in Melbourne.
Rybakina, the reigning Wimbledon champion who represents Kazakhstan, recorded six aces and held a 24-15 edge in total winners. She then won six of the match’s final seven games to dispatch the Poland native in 90 minutes.
The 23-year-old Rybakina said she took a more laid-back approach as she entered the match against the No. 1 player in the world.
“For sure, when you play against No. 1, I think you have really nothing to lose,” Rybakina said. “I knew that I had to be aggressive from the first ball because she’s a great mover, and she defends really well. So, I was trying to just attack her from the first ball, and it really worked well.”
Rybakina advances to face 17th-seeded Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia. The 2017 French Open champion posted a 7-5, 6-3 victory over seventh-seeded Coco Gauff.
Ostapenko, 25, recorded 30 winners and saved seven of the eight break points she faced to win her match in 93 minutes. She will be making her first Grand Slam quarterfinal appearance since 2018.
“My life changed a lot (after winning in Paris), so I needed a few years to really get used to what happened because I was really young,” Ostapenko said. “I was 19 and then turned 20.
“I always knew and believed in my game. If I play well, I can beat almost anyone. I was trying to work more on my consistency, especially in the preseason. Yeah, just to step on the court and play my game.”
A tearful Gauff admitted her frustrations during her post-match press conference.
“There were balls I was hitting deep, and she was hitting them on the line and hitting them back deep, over and over again,” Gauff said. “It’s just one of those days that just didn’t go my way and went her way.”
Also on Sunday, third-seeded Jessica Pegula advanced to the quarterfinals in Australia for third consecutive season by notching a 7-5, 6-2 victory over No. 20 Barbora Krejcikova of the Czech Republic.
“It feels like there’s still a long ways to go, to be honest,” Pegula said after dispatching the 2021 French Open champion in one hour, 41 minutes. “I look at the draw you have Rybakina who won Wimbledon last year, you have Vika (Azarenka) who does really well here, Caroline (Garcia) won the championships.
“It doesn’t really feel like I’m the highest (seed) left, even though I guess that’s a cool stat.”
Pegula advanced to face No. 24 Victoria Azarenka of Belarus. The two-time Australian Open champion overcame early struggles to post a 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 win over unseeded Lin Zhu of China.
–Field Level Media