MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Jessica Pegula rekindled her love affair with Melbourne Park on Sunday by dumping Greek fifth seed Maria Sakkari out of the Australian Open 7-6(0) 6-3 to reach the quarter-finals for a second straight year.
Under a blazing sun at Margaret Court Arena, Pegula's stonewall defence left the hard-hitting Sakkari a hot mess and the American only grew in confidence as the match went on.
After Sakkari crumbled to lose the first set tiebreak 7-0, Pegula began swinging hard at the Greek's serve and was rewarded with an early break in the second.
Sakkari battled to save a match point as Pegula served out but sent a defensive backhand wide to concede the match.
Pegula will play the winner of top seed Ash Barty and Amanda Anisimova for a place in the semi-finals.
"That definitely was the best match I've played this year, this tournament for sure," said the 21st seed.
"I was glad I was able to bring it today ... I thought I returned really well, I really from the start wanted to put a lot of pressure on her serve.
"I knew I had to just take my chances but also be patient."
(Reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne; Editing by Peter Rutherford)