Pegula hungry for semi-final slam showing

The highest seed remaining in the women’s field, American Jessica Pegula, says she never been better positioned to make her first grand slam semi-final.

The world No.3 has made the quarters at Melbourne Park three years straight while in 2022 she also made the final eight at Roland Garros and the US Open.

The 28-year-old, who was eliminated last year by world No. 1 and eventual champion Ash Barty, feels this is her time to shine.

Two-time champion Victoria Azarenka is her next hurdle, with the pair meeting on Rod Laver Arena on Tuesday night.

“I definitely want to reach a semi – it will be my first semi and I have a great shot here,” Pegula said.

“I think I’m playing probably the best I have than in any of my other grand slam quarter-finals and that helps.

“I feel more experience coming in here … I definitely feel very confident going into this quarter-final, that I’m playing the best tennis and I have a very good chance of making a semi.”

Pegula described the honour of holding the highest ranking as a “cool stat” but said there were plenty of other threats still in the field despite the early exit of the top two seeds Iga Swiatek and Ons Jabeur.

“I still don’t really feel like that – I mean I look at the draw and there’s (Elena) Rybakina, who won Wimbledon last year, you have Vika (Azarenka) who does really well here.

(Jelena) Ostapenko is a slam champion as well so there’s so many people I think that are playing well and also have big games where they can really kind of take you off the court.”

Belarusian mum Azarenka won the Open in 2012 and 2013 and bowed out in the fourth round last year.

The 33-year-old has been playing well above her 24th seeding.

“Vika is just a super aggressive baseliner and she loves to play here,” Pegula said.

“She’s just a great competitor and when she’s on and she’s playing her game, she can just be relentless with her style.”

In other Tuesday quarter-final matches, Kazakh Rybakina, who eliminated Swiatek, takes on 2017 French Open champion Ostapenko in the day match on Rod Laver Arena.

Russian Karen Khachanov and American Sebastian Korda, whose father Petr is a former Open champion, meet in the men’s final eight in an afternoon affair.

Third-seeded Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas and Czech surprise packet Jiri Lehecka are the last match onto the main arena.

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