Naomi Osaka pulled off a great escape to defeat Garbine Muguruza and make it into her second Australian Open quarter final on Sunday, while it took Serena Williams three sets to defeat Arnya Sabalenka in a battle of big hitters and reach the last eight in Melbourne for the 13th time.
Osaka defused two match points to defeat fellow former world number one Garbine Muguruza 4-6, 6-4, 7-5 at an empty Rod Laver Arena.
Williams also defeated the seventh seeded Sabalenka 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 to continue her chase for a record-equalling 24th grand slam win.
Muguruza, the 2020 Australian Open runner up and a two-time slam champion, dropped her first service game but broke Osaka’s serve right back and again on 4-4 to take the first set in just over half an hour.
Osaka, holder of an Australian Open title and two US Open ones, recovered another early break in the second and capitalized on a third set point opportunity to even scores out after just over an hour of play.
Muguruza failed to convert two match points late in the third and then could not serve out the match on 5-4, allowing the third seed to come back from 3-5 down, 15-40.
Osaka went on to win four straight games, converting the first of three match points to book a spot in the quarter finals, her second appearance in the last eight in Melbourne having first reached the stage in 2019 when she went on to win it all.
It took Williams over two hours to overpower Belarus’s Sabalenka in a balanced battle of power hitters.
The 39-year-old American converted a second opportunity to break Sabalenka’s serve and take the opening set in 43 minutes.
Williams had a rougher time in the second set, only managing to hold one service game to end up in a 2-5 hole as she struggled to get her first serve in. The 22-year-old Belarusian served it out to grab the equalizer with 89 minutes on the clock.
The seven-time Australian Open champion cleaned up her first serve in the third, but a break halfway through the decider was not enough to deliver the win, which eventually came as Williams converted the first of two match points on Sabalenka’s serve.
The 39-year-old will next face the winner of the match between two fellow slam champions, Romanian second seed Simona Halep and Poland’s Iga Swiatek, who will follow Dominic Thiem and Grigor Dimitrov at Rod Laver Arena.
Osaka meanwhile will verse unseeded Su-Wei Hsieh, who defeated 19th seed Marketa Vondrousova 6-4, 6-2 at the next door Margaret Court Arena.