Jessica Pegula continued her dream run at this year’s Australian Open as she sunk fifth seed Elina Svitolina to set up an all-American quarter-final against Jennifer Brady.
Pegula, the world number 61, rallied after a nervous second set to wrap up an impressive 6-4 3-6 6-3 victory to continue the best grand slam run of her career.
Next up for 26-year-old Pegula will be her former Fed Cup team-mate and last year’s US Open semi-finalist Brady, who beat an injury-hampered Donna Vekic 6-1 7-5.
Pegula, who had failed to go beyond the first round in all but two of her previous eight appearances in the main draw of a grand slam, said: “I can’t get more confident – it is my best result yet.
“I was a little tentative in the beginning of the second, and was able to play a couple of good games at the end of the second to get the momentum into the third. I definitely felt like I was sliding off the rails a little bit.”
Pegula pressured the Svitolina serve throughout the opening set and it came as no surprise when she finally broke in the seventh game before serving out to take the advantage.
Pegula broke again at the start of the second but dramatically lost her way, a series of rash shot choices handing Svitolina an immediate break back before the experienced Russian broke again to take a 3-1 lead.
It was enough for Svitolina to see out the set but unexpectedly the momentum swung back in the underdog’s favour, Pegula’s more aggressive approach paying dividends in two breaks, the second of which offered up her chance to serve out for a place in the last eight.
Brady won the first five games of her match against Vekic, who required a medical time-out early in the second for heavy strapping to be applied to her right knee.
Vekic returned and managed to haul back a break in Brady’s favour, but the American secured the second break which proved enough to seal victory.