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Australian Open heartbreak for injured Sebastian Korda as Victoria Azarenka winds back the clock — Day 9 as it happened

Injury ends Sebastian Korda's dream of emulating his father Petr and winning the Australian Open, sending Karen Khachanov into the semifinals.

And Victoria Azarenka winds back the clock to get to the final four here for the first time in a decade.

Earlier, Elena Rybakina continued her stunning run as she defeated Jelena Ostapenko.

Key events

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Azarenka turns back time in rout of Pegula

By Paul Johnson

Key Event

The last time Victoria Azarenka made the semis at the Australian Open she won the title.

That was 10 years ago as a 23-year-old Azarenka, the then top-ranked women's player defeated China's Li Na in the final.

It was Azarenka's second straight Australian Open title, no one knew then that a decade later she would not have won another slam.

She made the final of the 2020 US Open but lost to Naomi Osaka.

But here in Melbourne at 33 she has made the semis of the Australian Open with a 6-4, 6-1 demolition of third-seeded American, Pegula.

Azarenka's variety of shots and spins as well as a willingness to come to the net caused Pegula a number of issues as unforced errors flowed from the American.

A set down, Pegula who has never made it past the quarters of a slam came unravelled on Rod Laver Arena as Azarenka's combination of power-hitting and guile proved too much.

Azarenka booking a semifinal showdown with Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina.

Azarenka takes the opening set

By Paul Johnson

Key Event

Wind back the clock tennis fans!

And do so because Victoria Azarenka is out there playing like it's 10 years ago.

The 33-year-old former world number one winding back the clock with a vintage performance to take the first set from Jessica Pegula 6-4.

Azarenka took the break in Pegula's first service game and the pair traded some long games in the opening set before Pegula broke back to get things back on serve at 4-5.

Before Azarenka steadied to break again to take the set.

Her variety of shots and spins as well as a willingness to come to the net causing the third-seeded American a number of issues as unforced errors that have not really been a feature of Pegula's tournament thus far flowed.

For Pegula, who has never advanced past the quarters of a grand slam, it is looming as another missed opportunity at the highest level,

Aussie pair into mixed double's semis

By Paul Johnson

Key Event

After an all-Australian battle there was always one local pair guaranteed to be in the last four of the tournament.

And it's Olivia Gadecki and Marc Polmans.

The unseeded duo continuing their dominant run at this year's Australian Open.

It started in the opening round when they upset fourth-seeds Wesley Koolhof and Ena Shibahara. And they have not looked back.

In fact the pair have not dropped a set all tournament and easily accounted for fellow Aussies Jason Kubler and Maddison Inglis 6-3, 6-2.

Gadecki said she was shocked to be there.

"I can't even put it into words to be honest," Gadecki said.

"I think we both are just really having fun out here."

They will play Brazilian pair Luisa Stefani and Rafael Matos in the semis.

Gadecki/Polmans draw first blood in all-Aussie mixed battle

By Paul Johnson

Olivia Gadecki and Marc Polmans have taken the opening set in their mixed double quarterfinal against fellow Australians Jason Kubler and Maddison Inglis.

The pair got the vital break against the serve of Inglis to lead 5-3 before Polmans served out the set.

Azarenka fast out of the blocks

By Paul Johnson

Like Karen Khachanov before her Victoria Azarenka has charged out to an early lead against a less experienced opponent.

Azarenka held serve than broke Pegula, before again holding to take a 3-0 lead against the American.

While Azarenka has twice won the title here and been to multiple semifinals, Pegula has never made it past the quarterfinals at a major.

Azarenka and Pegula on court

By Paul Johnson

This one should be good.

Jessica Pegula has been in great form this tournament and really kept her error count down thus far.

Azarenka, as usual, has been a consistent force but questions are there as to whether at 33 whether she could win another slam.

Vika already has two Aus Open title with the last coming in 2013 but also made the US Open final in 2020.

With an open draw she could be up for one last great run.

The pair are 2-2 career in their head-to-head with Pegula winning their only encounter last year in Guadalajara, Mexico 7-6, 6-1,

Quick weather update

By Paul Johnson

It's raining, so play on outside courts is currently suspended.

That includes mixed and women's doubles matches featuring Australians.

'Couldn't even hold the racquet': Korda opens up on injury

By Paul Johnson

Key Event

Sebastian Korda says he could barely hold his tennis racquet after mishitting a forehand return against Karen Khachanov in their men's singles quarterfinal.

The 22-year-old American retired with the injury when trailing 7-6, (7/5), 6-3, 3-0.

Korda said the injury was something he felt slightly in his run to the Adelaide final but that it went away, before returning against Khachanov early in the second set on Tuesday, at Rod Laver Arena.

"I hit one forehand return and after that it was almost tough to hold the racquet at times," Korda said.

"I had it a little bit in Adelaide but then it went away.

"During other matches it was completely fine but then one kind of mishit return, and it started bothering me a lot after that.

"Some forehands I couldn't even hold the racquet, volleying was nearly impossible for me."

Korda said he had never experienced wrist issues previously in and hoped it was not serious.

"I don't know what it really is," he said.

"It just came back out of nowhere, I'll see a doctor after this and figure out more."

Despite the injury ending his run in Melbourne, Korda said there were far more positives than negatives to take from a summer where he made massive progress on tour.

"This is still my first quarterfinal in a grand slam and I am going to go forward with my head high and keep working," he said.

"I think I can do some really big things in the near future."

Injury kills off Korda's Aus Open dream

By Paul Johnson

Key Event

Injury and a rampant Karen Khachanov have killed off Sebastian Korda's dream of emulating his dad and winning the Australian Open.

Korda's father Petr won the title 25 years ago but Sebastian's run came to an end in shattering circumstances against Khachanov.

Korda suffered a wrist injury during the second set against and only won won a single game after receiving treatment, retiring at 7-6 (7/5), 6-3, 3-0.

Korda called for the trainer at 2-3 down in the second set and had his right wrist assessed then strapped but it did little to ease the pain.

That pain was etched on his face every time he was forced to hit multiple forehands in a rally, as he winced and shook his head, all the while looking at his girlfriend and coach Radek Stepanek.

After dropping the second set Korda went for a bathroom break but the writing was on the wall.

Khachanov, who had been impressive early on and had controlled the bulk of the match pre-injury advancing to his first Australian Open semifinal.

"It's not the way you want to win," Khachanov said before paying tribute to Korda.

"Sebastian beat one of my friends in Daniil [Medvedev] and Hurkacz in five — so big applause to him."

For Khachanov it's his second straight semifinal in a slam after making the final four at the US Open, before losing to Casper Ruud.

He said that experience has given him a newfound confidence that he can be a contender at the majors.

"I kind of re-invented myself," he said.

"I would say I always believe in myself but there are always ups and downs and sometimes when you have this great result it just shows you what you're capable of and then you start to believe more and more.

"So this belief and self-confidence I think appear much stronger after the US Open.

"I just hope to continue that way, and to grow as a person and as a sportsman."

Khachanov will play either Stefanos Tsitsipas or Jiri Lehecka in the semis.

Khachanov takes the second

By Paul Johnson

Key Event

If it's not over now for Sebastian Korda it might just be a fait accompli.

Khachanov has now broken him twice in a row since the American called for the trainer and had his right wrist taped.

The Russian leads 7-6 (7/5), 6-3.

Korda looks dejected and is grimacing between points, particularly when he has to hit multiple forehands and just does not look confident at all.

Korda just dawdled to the chair, shaking his head and went for a toilet break.

He  looks completely out of this right now.

Korda calls the trainer

By Paul Johnson

Key Event

And speaking of injuries.... Sebastian Korda has called the trainer.

Korda is having his right wrist examined and strapped.

The youngster hadn't shown any real signs of pain here - so this could be interesting moving forward.

And it is - he has since struggled to his his forehand and been tame on a backhand miss as Khachanov broke him for a 4-3 lead in the second set.

After being broken Korda looked to his box, resignation etched on his face and once again spent the change of ends with the phsyio.

A few of you weighing in on Djokovic

By Paul Johnson

So here we go ...

Leon asks: What are your thoughts on the Djokovic injuries? I personally think he uses it as a way to either shift the burden of winning off himself (by having people focus on his injury) or to gain a psychological advantage over his opponents. Some of the injuries he claims he has seem to show up at convenient times for him, and he is fine the rest of the time.

It's hard to know for sure what is happening but it is true there is a history with Djokovic of injuries distracting his opponents. See Taylor Fritz in 2021 and Andy Murray here in 2015. Fritz commented on Twitter today that some players exaggerate their injuries without specifically naming Novak, so take from that what you will.

If he gains an advantage, that's more on his opponents than him and their mental ability to deal with it.

Thomas Griffiths says: I believe he plays the mind games to the maximum. Toilet breaks are another concern being used by some players to win at all costs. Also coaching by various means should be taken more serious forget about the player. Their standings shouldn't be any reason to be 💯 on the ball. 

Khachanov takes opening set in tiebreak

By Paul Johnson

Key Event

Karen Khachanov has taken the opening set of his men's singles quarterfinal against Sebastian Korda in a tiebreak.

Khachanov took the breaker 7/5 but he was pushed harder in the set than he would have liked.

The big Russian eventually taking the set after Korda fought back from 5-2 down.

The  22-year-old American also saved two set points in the breaker before Khachanov unleashed a backhand winner down the line.

Arguably it should never have gotten to that.

Khachanov was off to a flying start and broke Korda in his first service game after the Russian won the opening 7 points of the match.

He also led 3-0 after just nine minutes of play, and looked assured from the back of the court, while Korda looked nervous.

Korda fought back though but Khachanov was too strong as he pounded down 7 aces amongst 12 winners as he took the set.

Korda though has shown he won't lay down and the Russian, who made the US Open semifianls last year, will have to fight to do that at Melbourne Park.

All Khachanov early

By Paul Johnson

 The Russian is off to a flyer.

Khachanov won the first seven points of the match, before breaking Korda to take a 2-0 lead.

He then consolidated the break to lead 3-0 early as the errors flow from the Korda racket.

Korda looking to follow in father's footsteps

By Paul Johnson

Little time wasted here.

Russia's Karen Khachanov and American son of a gun Sebastian Korda are on court for their quarterfinal.

For Khachanov this is a chance to make his second straight slam semifinal, after doing that at last year's US Open, before losing to Casper Ruud.

For Korda the match represents a chance to continue to follow in his father, Petr's footsteps.

Petr won the title here in 1998 and  Sebastian has been brilliant so far this tournament, defeating Cristian Garin, Daniil Medvedev and Hubert Hurkacz along the way.

While Khachanov's tournament might be best remembered for a 70-shot rally with Australia's Jason Kubler.

Korda leads the head-to-head here 2-1.

Khachanov won at Wimbledon in 2021.

Korda won hardcourt, matches last year at Cincinnatti and Antwerp, both in straight sets.

Rybakina first woman into semis

By Paul Johnson

Key Event

Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina has stormed into the women's singles semifinals with a 6-2, 6-4 victory over 2017 French Open winner Jelena Ostapenko.

The victory every bit as impressive as Rybakina's fourth round win over world number one Iga Swiatek.

Rybakina set herself up for the victory by dominating the opening set behind her booming first serve and continued in that vein in the second set as she unleashed 11 aces for the match.

Ostapenko managed to improve in the second set and took the early break, but she gave it straight back and then failed to convert on any of four break points in the next game.

That would cost her dearly as Rybakina broke in the next game and never gave that break back despite some struggles closing out the match.

The 23-year-old Kazakh said she was filled with joy following the win.

"I am super happy to be first time in the semifinal," she said.

"I managed my emotions and I played really well today."

Rybakina takes opening set

By Paul Johnson

Key Event

That was 30-odd minutes of dominance from the Wimbledon champ.

Elena Rybakina taking the opening set over Jelena Ostapenko 6-2.

Rybakina at her brilliant best as she crushed her first serve, winning all but one point when it went in.

Ostapenko was not so lucky as Rybakina's serving dominance allowed her to tee off on the Latvian's weaker serve to break her at will.

Djokovic says doubters give him extra strength

By Paul Johnson

Key Event

So much of the narrative in Australia the last two years has surrounded Novak Djokovic and it seems the Serbian has had enough.

Last year he was deported from the country but this year the focus has been on his hamstring.

In the past Djokovic says he has been accused of faking injuries and when speaking to Serbian media last night he rounded on those who doubt him, making accusations of a double standard.

"I leave the doubting to those people; let them doubt," he said.

"Only my injuries are questioned.

"When some other players are injured, then they are the victims, but when it is me, I am faking it.

"It is very interesting. I don't feel that I need to prove anything to anyone."

Two years ago Djokovic said he had torn an abdominal muscle when playing against American Taylor Fritz in the fourth round.

That he could push through with that injury was questioned but he said he may one day prove he has actually been battling injuries.

"I have got the MRI, ultrasound and everything else, both from two years ago and now," he added.

"Whether I will publish that in my documentary or on the social media depends on how I feel. Maybe I will do I it, maybe I won't."

Fritz for his part commented on Twitter this morning, making it clear he was not "talking about anyone on particular".

But said some players may exaggerate their injuries in a lengthy thread.

"I don’t think people fake injuries, I do think sometimes players stretch the severity of the injury because it depressurizes them and helps them play better (which honestly is fine, do whatever works)," Fritz wrote.

Rain hits Melbourne

By Paul Johnson

Key Event

That didn't take long and now the roof is being closed after a downpour.

Out on Rod Laver Arena Elena Rybakina had got off to a fast start against Jelena Ostapenko, breaking her in the opening game of the match to get off to a strong start.

Ostapenko, who is at times highly combustible, looked flustered early and was upset with Hawkeye early, believing the technology has missed a call on a Rybakina serve.

It's certainly an argument she won't win.

But the rain delay might help the 2017 French Open champion settle and refocus, because she was looking flustered early.

The score is currently 3-1 to Rybakina, with Ostapenko set to face a break point when they return to court.

Fun fact: Rybakina has never beaten Ostapenko.

Today's big matches

By Paul Johnson

Women's singles quarterfinals

22 Elena Rybakina (KAZ) v 17 Jelena Ostapenko (LAT)

3 Jessica Pegula (USA) v 24 Victoria Azarenka (BLR)

Men's singles quarterfinals

18 Karen Khachanov (RUS) v 29 Sebastian Korda (USA)

3 Stefanos Tsitsipas (USA) v Jiri Lehecka (CZE)

Mixed doubles quarterfinals

Madison Inglis/Jason Kubler (AUS) v Olivia Gadecki/Marc Polmans (AUS)

Women's doubles quarterfinals

4 Storm Hunter(AUS)/Elise Mertens (BEL) v Marta Kostyuk (UKR)/Elena Gabriela Ruse (Bel)

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