Pegula powers past Kostyuk

AMERICAN third seed Jessica Pegula showed no mercy during a brutal 6-2 6-0 smashing of talented Ukrainian Marta Kostyuk to reach the fourth round of the 2023 Australian Open. Continuing her outstanding month to kick-start another year, Pegula only hit nine unforced errors in the match, as the powerful, but unpredictable Kostyuk was unable to control her shots.

Breaking her opponent a massive six times from 12 changes, Pegula weathered 18 winners off Kostyuk’s racquet, with the Ukrainian also hitting 39 unforced errors, including five straight off the serve. Though Pegula served four double faults without an ace, she saved eight break points, and forced Kostyuk to make mistakes.

The pair played in last year’s Cincinnati Masters, and after Kostyuk won the first set in a tiebreaker, Pegula won the last two sets 6-1 6-2. It means in her past four sets against Kostyuk, the American has conceded just five games. The third seed was pleased with her performance.

“I thought I just didn’t give away many free points,” Pegula said. “I was playing aggressive when I had to, but also playing smart. I definitely learned a lot from when I last played her for a better strategy going into the match, so that worked really well. I think right from the start and I think I wasn’t serving great today but I thought I served smart enough to get myself through some tough games.”

Coming into the contest, Pegula knew Kostyuk would keep pressing the envelope in an order to hit a high volume of winners. The American ensured she did not panic, and stuck to the gameplan, and task at hand.

“I think just the strategy of how I wanted to construct the points (is what I focused on),” Pegula said. “I knew she’d hit some really flashy, amazing points. She’s a really great player, she’s super talented and a great athlete so I was trying not to get frustrated if I knew she was going to hit an amazing shot I just had to move on to the next point and let it go.”

After cruising through her third round match in just 65 minutes, Pegula will next face 20th seed Barbora Krejcikova who ousted another Ukrainian in Anhelina Kalinina, 6-2 6-3. The American said she was “excited” to be playing in the fourth round of the first Grand Slam of the year.

“Obviously I’ve watched her quite a bit,” Pegula said. “She’s had a great last couple of years. Last year she was a little bit hurt but it seems like she’s finding her confidence again. I don’t think I’ve ever played her in singles, just in doubles. I have a little bit of an idea but I’ll definitely have to watch some more of her matches, but at the same time just happy to be through to the fourth round. I’m just excited for the next match.”

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