It was a successful Sunday for the Americans at the Australian Open as Sebastian Korda earned a place in his first grand slam quarter-final, while Jessica Pegula progressed to the last-eight in Melbourne for the third straight year.
Korda earned his place by taking the last three points of the match to edge out No 10 seed Hubert Hurkacz 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 1-6, 7-6 (10-7).
“Those are the toughest points to win … those last three there,” said Korda, whose father, Petr, won the 1998 Australian Open. “They’re brutal in a way.”
The 22-year-old has made it a point to reach out and tap signs marking the titles won by his father and by mentor Andre Agassi in the hallway leading to the court in Rod Laver Arena.
“Every single time I walk by, I always give … a little fist bump,” Korda said. “Kind of makes me feel like they’re with me, in a way. I always know that they’re watching. They’re both very special for me. They helped me a ton.”
Korda’s mother was a professional tennis player, too, and his two older sisters play professional golf. They’ve been following on TV from the United States during the Australian Open, despite the 16-hour time difference between the US east coast and Melbourne.
“I just got off the phone with them,” Korda said about his parents. “They’re going to try to go to bed.”
This victory followed up a third-round win for Korda against 2021 US Open champion Daniil Medvedev, the runner-up at Melbourne Park each of the past two years.
The 29th-seeded Korda will face 18th-seeded Karen Khachanov for a spot in the semi-finals.
Korda was one of four American men to get to the fourth round, along with Ben Shelton, JJ Wolf and Tommy Paul – who all play on Monday – the most for the country in Australia since four made it in 2004.
“It’s awesome,” Korda said. “We’ve got a great group coming up. I think we can do some special things in the next couple years.”
Pegula is a more familiar face in the later stages of the Australian Open. The No 3 seed is now the highest ranked player left in the women’s draw after No 1 seed Iga Świątek was stunned by Elena Rybakina. Pegula beat Barbora Krejcikova 7-5, 6-2 on Sunday. She now aims to make the first grand slam semi-final of her career.
“I definitely want to reach a semi. It will be my first semi. I mean, I have a great shot here,” Pegula said. “I feel more confident, I feel more experience being in this position. I think I definitely feel maybe a little bit more settled than I have in the past in those tournaments.
“I’ve been playing the best I have than in any of my other Grand Slam quarterfinals. That I think helps. I think I feel more experience coming in here. I think my win today will give me a lot of confidence.”
She will play two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka next after the Belarusian beat Zhu Lin in three sets.
Meanwhile, Coco Gauff will have to wait until next year for another shot at the Australian Open title. The 18-year-old lost to 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko 7-5, 6-3.
“There was moments in the match where I was getting frustrated, because I normally can problem-solve, but today I feel like I didn’t have much answers to what she was doing,” said Gauff, who was the runner-up to Świątek at the French Open last June.
Gauff wiped away tears as she spoke to reporters after the match. “There was balls I was hitting deep, and she was hitting them on the line and hitting them back deep, over and over again,” she said. “It’s just one of those days that just didn’t go my way and went her way.”