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Pegula and Brady set up all-US quarterfinal at Australian Open

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JESSICA PEGULA OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA in action during her fourth Round Women’s singles match against Elina Svitolina of Ukraine on Day 8 of the Australian Open at Melbourne Park in Melbourne on Monday, February 15, 2021. — REUTERS

Medvedev sets up all-Russian Rublev clash in Melbourne

MELBOURNE — Jessica Pegula continued her dream run at the Australian Open on Monday with a (6-4, 3-6, 6-3) win over fifth seed Elina Svitolina to set up an all-American quarterfinal against Jennifer Brady, who beat Croatia’s Donna Vekić in straight sets.

Pegula struggled badly in the second set at Rod Laver Arena but regrouped in the decider, breaking former Wimbledon and US Open semifinalist Svitolina in the fourth game before locking down her first win over a top 10 opponent.

Matching Svitolina’s power off the baseline, Pegula rushed the net to knock her opponent off her stride and sealed the win on the first match point when the Ukrainian netted a return.

Pegula, who considered giving up tennis after being sidelined for long spells due to knee and hip injuries earlier in her career, will play her good friend Brady for a place in the semis after the 25-year-old beat Vekić (6-1, 7-5).

“Jen is an awesome person,” Pegula told a news conference. “She was texting me, ‘I’m so happy, I’m so proud. This is awesome’.

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“We’ve all been pushing each other. Why not push each other into a quarterfinal, then one of us be in the semis?”

Vekić was hampered by an injury to her right leg and took a medical time out at the start of the second set after being blitzed by Brady in the opener.

She emerged with fresh strapping above and below her knee and though she managed to take the fight to Brady in the second set the Croatian was barely moving in the final two games.

With the score tied at 5-5, Vekić surrendered her serve to love, a double fault handing Brady the chance to serve for the match.

The American made no mistake, sealing victory when her opponent fluffed a forehand.

ALL-RUSSIAN CLASH
Russian Daniil Medvedev firmed as an Australian Open title contender when he brushed aside Mackenzie McDonald (6-4, 6-2, 6-3) on Monday to reach the quarter-finals for the first time and extend his winning streak to 18 matches.

Medvedev will play compatriot Andrey Rublev for a spot in his third Grand Slam semifinal after the seventh seed was gifted a place in the last eight, also for the first time, when Casper Ruud retired injured.

“At least one of us will be in semis, that’s good news,” said Rublev, who was leading (6-2, 7-6(3)) when Ruud called it quits. “Last time, he beat me in the quarterfinal of the US Open and now we meet in the quarterfinals of Australian Open, we’ll see what happens.

“I hope we can show great level and it will be a great battle.”

Fourth seed Medvedev won his first career five-set match in the third round, but there was no need for a prolonged spell in the sun on Monday as he saw off McDonald in less than 90 minutes on Margaret Court Arena.

World number 192 McDonald had some luck going to the net, but could not match the power of Medvedev’s serve or the intensity the Russian brought to bear on big points.

“I played a great match, was feeling the ball great, serving great, hit some good winners,” said the 25-year-old Medvedev. “I was feeling really good out there. That’s the most important thing.”

Rublev spent only 80 minutes on court in the clash of two former junior world number ones because of Ruud’s retirement, which came after the Norwegian lost the second set tie-break.

“I feel sorry for Casper,” said 23-year-old Rublev. “I hope he recovers real quick. I did not expect it to end this way, but this is sport.

“I’m feeling perfect,” he added. “I’m feeling physically great.”

Qualifier Aslan Karatsev could make it two Russians in the last four if he beats Grigor Dimitrov in the quarterfinals on Tuesday. — Reuters

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