Elina Svitolina has crashed out of the Australian Open, losing 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 against Jessica Pegula, who recorded her first top 10 win to reach a maiden Grand Slam quarter-final.
The Ukrainian had beaten her opponent convincingly in Abu Dhabi just a month ago, but was on the back foot for much of the first set as Pegula stepped into the court and forced her opponent further and further behind the baseline.
All of the opener’s break points fell the way of the American and she eventually went 4-3 up and never looked back, bringing up set point by winning a fantastic 31-shot rally against an opponent renowned for her fighting qualities.
It looked like it could be a short encounter when Pegula backed up her victory by breaking in the opening game of the second. But suddenly her level dropped and Svitolina took full advantage by rattling off four straight games.
Only some superb fight from Pegula prevented Svitolina taking a double break lead but the Ukrainian eventually levelled the match and took it to a decider.
Pegula was back to her best in the opening sections of the final set, skipping into a 4-1 lead in no time at all, only to gift the break of serve back to Svitolina with a double fault.
But, as Svitolina looked to make it 4-4, her own serve broke down and Pegula held her nerve to record a fantastic win and reach the last eight.
“I really admire how she is on the court, she gets her head down and she always fights,” Pegula said in her on-court interview.
“I’m just happy to be through. At the end of the second it was important to get some better games in there to get some momentum in the third.
“I’m hitting the ball really well, I think I served really well, which is really important, especially against the top players. Any extra free points you can get is huge.
“Everything feels pretty solid so I’m just going to take that to the next match.”