French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova shattered the dreams of two-time
Australian Open winner Victoria Azarenka on Sunday to set up a quarter-final with big-serving Madison Keys.
The fourth seed won the baseline battle to oust the veteran Belarusian Azarenka, who was struggling with a neck problem, 6-2, 6-2 on Rod Laver Arena.
Victory set up a showdown with the unseeded Keys for a berth in the last four, after the American comfortably toppled eighth-seeded Spaniard Paula Badosa 6-3, 6-1.
“It was really amazing today because she is a champion here and she likes this court, she’s very experienced on this court,” said the Czech Krejcikova.
“I really admire her because she’s such a good player and I’m extremely happy that I won today. It was a dream to play in a court like this and against such a champion.”
Krejcikova is coming off a big year in 2021, in which she took the title at Roland Garros and raced up the rankings.
But she had not made it past the second round in Australia in her two previous attempts.
She quickly took command in sweltering heat, returning well to keep the ball in play then dictating from the back of the court.
The 26-year-old earned the opening break with a beautiful lob and kept her focus to hold serve, then break again for 5-2.
Azarenka — the 2012 and 2013 Melbourne champion — was struggling with what appeared to be a neck problem and called for a medical timeout while a break and 0-1 down in the second set.
She was heard saying “it feels tight” but kept going only to call the physio again at 1-2.
Against the odds, she then broke back, but the injury was clearly hampering her serve and she double-faulted to hand Krejcikova another break and there was no way back.
The win kept alive fourth-ranked Krejcikova’s slim chances of moving to world number one at the end of the tournament, but she needs to win the title and hope other results go in her favour.