Thanks for visiting the Australian Open Website. We can see you’re using Internet Explorer, and wanted to let you know that we will no longer be supporting this browser in future. We’d recommend you download a new browser if you'd like to continue keeping up with all of the latest tennis news!

Women's wrap: Sakkari strong as Badosa, Pegula and Keys progress

  • Ravi Ubha

Things are heating up at Australian Open 2022 – and not only the weather. 

MORE: All the scores from Day 5 at AO 2022

Players are hoping to land in the second week, and Maria Sakkari, Paula Badosa, Jessica Pegula and Madison Keys got there in contrasting fashion on Friday.

'All the way' for Sakkari?

Maria Sakkari is making a habit of reaching second weeks at Grand Slams, extending last year's momentum.  

Excluding a minor blemish at Wimbledon – perhaps unsurprising given a long, draining stay at Roland Garros weeks earlier – the Greek finds herself in the fourth round at a major for the third time in her past four attempts following a 6-4 6-1 win over Veronika Kudermetova. 

And yes, chants and Greek flags again accompanied Sakkari's victory – which wasn't as straight-forward as the scoreline indicated – on a sweltering day where temperatures hit 30 degrees Celsius. 

MORE: AO 2022 women's singles draw

At the French Open and US Open, Sakkari went all the way to the semifinals. 

And with the backing of her adoring public in Melbourne, the fifth seed isn't ruling out going even deeper. 

"All the way," Sakkari replied on court when asked how far the fans could take her. 

"I feel like I have extra strength when I have them with me because they support me no matter what. I think their opponents don't like it, but I do like it. I'm really enjoying and I really want to thank them."

Sakkari is relishing the 'home' crowd support in Melbourne

Sakkari hasn't dropped a set, although Friday's start at John Cain Arena against the 28th seed suggested that would change. 

An attacking player who seeks to dictate behind serves and returns, Kudermetova led 3-1. But the match shifted when the Melbourne Summer Set finalist dropped serve from 40-0. 

She required a medical timeout at 3-4 for what appeared to be an issue with her midriff and Sakkari cruised the rest of the way. 

"Feeling pretty good," said Sakkari. "Not dropping a set in three matches, I guess it's quite decent."

Badosa survives 'insane' test 

Like Sakkari, Paula Badosa enjoyed a stellar 2021 – and she shows no signs of waning.

Badosa, last week's Sydney champion, battled past Marta Kostyuk 6-2 5-7 6-4 in nearly two and a half hours to earn a spot in the round of 16 at Melbourne Park for the first time. 

The Indian Wells title winner dropped a mere seven games in her first two outings and when the eighth seed led the Ukrainian 4-2 in the second set, another routine win beckoned. 

Yet Kostyuk and her varied game prompted a third, then fended off four match points prior to a relieved Badosa finally putting the world No.66 away. 

The contest littered with emotion, the pair exchanged an extended hug at its conclusion. 

They had been complimentary of each other beforehand, Badosa even saying that Kostyuk – who made the third round as a 15-year-old in 2018 – could be the "next star."

"I was expecting a match like this," the Spaniard said in her on-court interview at Margaret Court Arena. "As you saw, Marta is an insane player. I think she was playing top five level in the world in this match.

"I think I gave it all today. I left everything on court and super happy I got this win." 

"I'm super excited, super motivated. I think I'm playing really good tennis."

Happy days in Melbourne again for Pegula

The Australian Open was really where it all began for Jessica Pegula. 

Ranked 61 at the start of last year's tournament, Pegula rode her big serve and groundstrokes to the quarterfinals. A win over two-time champ Victoria Azarenka got the ball rolling, and by season's end, the American climbed to No.18. 

The 21st seed in Melbourne is back into the fourth round after edging Badosa's countrywoman Nuria Parrizas Diaz 7-6(3) 6-2, which must feel even sweeter for Pegula since she lost both her singles matches in the build-up to the season's opening major. 

"I thought I served pretty well when I had to and then played a little more aggressive end of the first set," said Pegula, who will face Sakkari in the round of 16 on Sunday.

"Was able to put some more pressure on her because she hits a really clean ball and we both hit pretty flat, so I think we were kind of feeding off each other a little bit."

Pegula is one win away from her second straight AO quarterfinal

Parrizas Diaz, No.63, left the court with a wave following her first ever Grand Slam victories. 

The 30-year-old is bound to remember her week with fondness and also her 2021, when she claimed seven titles at all levels and became the fourth-oldest woman to crack the top 100.  

Rejuvenated Madison finding Keys to success

Madison Keys is bound for an upturn in 2022, isn’t she?

Last year the former US Open finalist tallied her fewest victories on tour – pre pandemic – since 2011, and the American couldn't play at the Australian Open after testing positive for Covid before her flight. 

Her year-end ranking dropped outside the top 20 for the first time since 2014. 

But still possessing some of the hardest drives in tennis, Keys is on the way to a much more pleasing campaign after defeating Wang Qiang 4-6 6-3 7-6[10-2] to extend her winning streak to eight.

She combined 50 winners with 50 unforced errors. 

In the tiebreak, though, the world No.51 didn't make a single unforced error and thumped five winners. 

Keys played a near-flawless tiebreak with everything on the line

It was all the more impressive considering Wang's counterpunching abilities, which were on full display at Melbourne Park two years ago in beating Serena Williams. 

Wang's own ranking sits outside the top 100, having shut down her 2021 season after the Olympic tennis event. 

Keys meets Badosa on Sunday.