Australian Open 2023 Results: Instant Reactions to Winners and Losers from Tuesday
The two best American title hopefuls were eliminated at the 2023 Australian Open on Tuesday.
Jessica Pegula, the No. 3 seed and lone U.S. player left in the women's singles, fell in straight sets to Victoria Azarenka.
The 28-year-old was the top-seeded name left her in half of the draw, but she was the only one without a Grand Slam title among the four quarterfinalists in the top portion.
Azarenka held an edge over Pegula almost instantly, and her experience shined inside Rod Laver Arena in the 6-4, 6-1 victory.
The two-time Australian Open champion will face Elena Rybakina in the semifinals after the Kazakh player defeated Jelena Ostapenko in straight sets.
Sebastian Korda was one of three Americans to qualify for the last eight in the men's singles, but a wrist injury in the third set forced him to retire in his match against Karen Khachanov.
The 22-year-old was viewed as the best U.S. shot to advance to the final because Ben Shelton and Tommy Paul, two unseeded players who face each other on Wednesday, would have to go through Novak Djokovic to reach the final.
Korda was down two sets and a break at the time of his retirement, but he leaves Melbourne with his best finish in a major tournament.
Khachanov now faces Stefanos Tsitsipas, a four-time Australian Open semifinalist, in the next round with the winner likely facing nine-time champion Djokovic.
No. 3 Stefanos Tsitsipas def. Jiri Lehecka, 6-3, 7-6 (2), 6-4
No. 18 Karen Khachanov def. No. 29 Sebastian Korda, 7-6 (5), 6-3, 3-0 (retired)
No. 24 Victoria Azarenka def. No. 3 Jessica Pegula, 6-4, 6-1
No. 22 Elena Rybakina def. No. 17 Jelena Ostapenko, 6-2, 6-4
Victoria Azarenka Eliminates Jessica Pegula
Jessica Pegula's first dropped sets of the Australian Open finally came in her defeat to Victoria Azarenka.
The third-seeded American was pegged as one of the favorites to win in Melbourne because of her incredible form.
She entered the quarterfinals with four straight-set wins in the tournament, with six of her eight set victories claimed by four games or more.
However, the Buffalo, New York native was on the receiving end of a dominant display by Azarenka, who allowed Pegula to win just five of the 17 games over two sets.
Pegula is now 0-5 in Grand Slam quarterfinal singles matches. She fell in the final eight in each of the last three years in Melbourne and lost at the same stage at the French and U.S. Opens in 2022.
A semifinal breakthrough feels like it could come soon for Pegula, though. And that could come at either Roland Garros or New York based on her 2022 results.
If anyone knows Pegula's current disappointment, it's Azarenka. The No. 24 seed lost in five Grand Slam quarterfinals from 2014-16 after featuring in the 2013 U.S. Open final.
The 2012 and 2013 Australian Open champion entered Melbourne with one major semifinal appearance in the past 10 years, when she reached the U.S. Open final in 2020.
The Belarusian's lengthy major experience gives her an edge against Elena Rybakina, who is a rising star of the women's game.
The Moscow-born youngster won Wimbledon last year and knocked out top seed Iga Świątek in the fourth round this year in Melbourne.
The No. 22 seed had never advanced past the third round at the two hardcourt majors prior to 2023. She has looked more than comfortable in Melbourne, though.
The Rybakina-Azarenka matchup will be a battle of youth versus experience. The 23-year-old Rybakina will be playing in only her second Grand Slam semifinal, while the 33-year-old Azarenka is in her ninth major semifinal.
Sebastian Korda Retires with Wrist Injury
Sebastian Korda's fantastic run in Melbourne ended sooner than he expected with a third-set retirement against Karen Khachanov on Tuesday.
The Bradenton, Florida native tried to battle through a wrist injury, but the pain was too much to handle and he retired after three games in the third set.
"I kind of felt that spot that I was feeling before,'' Korda said, per ESPN.com. "Some forehands, I couldn't even hold the racket. Volleying was almost impossible for me. So it was a little tough.''
The exit from Melbourne hurts, but Korda can come away from the tournament with plenty of positives to take into the season's other three majors.
He advanced to his first Grand Slam quarterfinal and did so by beating two top-10 players in Daniil Medvedev and Hubert Hurkacz.
The experience gained in Melbourne should help him at the French Open, Wimbledon and U.S. Open. It would not come as a shock to see him listed as one of the dark-horse title contenders in New York in August if he keeps up this level of form.
Khachanov will go head-to-head with Stefanos Tsitsipas in the semifinal round.
The 24-year-old has the clear advantage over the Russian since he has been to the Australian Open final four on three previous occasions.
Tsitsipas lost to Medvedev twice and Rafael Nadal in his three prior semifinal trips in Melbourne. The match against Khachanov, a 2022 U.S. Open semifinalist, presents the Greek with his best chance to reach a final Down Under.
The Tsitsipas-Khachanov winner is expected to face Novak Djokovic in the final.
The Serb faces Andrey Rublev in quarterfinal action on Wednesday, with the winner taking on Ben Shelton or Tommy Paul.