Trailing by a set and a break, Barbora Krejcikova showed the champion's mettle in a 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 win against Jelena Ostapenko in the third round of the Australian Open. 

Unable to find her rhythm in the first set and a half, thanks in part to unrelenting aggression from Ostapenko, Krejcikova trailed 6-4, 3-1 before going on a tear to force a final set. Her momentum continued on into the decider. She broke Ostapenko in the first game and held onto the lead for the duration of the 2-hour, 10-minute encounter.

"I feel really proud with the way how I was able to handle the match even I was losing and I was really down," Krejcikova said after the match. "The match was very difficult. I'm really happy that I was able to find a way how to use my chances and how to win it at the end."

Turning point: Ostapenko barreled through the opening set after holding serve in a key six-deuce game at 1-1. The Latvian saved three break points to deny Krejcikova an early lead. She dominated in all facets with more winners (11 to 6), fewer unforced errors (11 to 15) and first-serve percentage (69% to 42%). 

That continued for the first half of the second set until Krejcikova made her move. A forehand winner at 30-30 earned the Czech her first break point since 1-1 in the first, and deep hitting forced a forehand miscue to get back on serve. They stayed there until Krejcikova won eight of the last nine points to push the match the distance. 

"I knew that at some point, I'm going to get a chance. Now it's just to wait for a chance, try to convert it. During the match I was just pretty much saying to myself, 'Just keep going, just try to stay close, try to hold your serve, try to play.' Paying [on] Rod Laver in singles, it's very special, a very special match. I was just telling myself, 'Try to stay here as long as you can.'"

- Barbora Krejcikova

Staying tough down the stretch: Krejcikova was tested in the third despite never trailing in the set. She saved all three break points she faced — two at 2-1 and another at 4-3 — and later needed three match points to seal the win.  

Up next: Krejcikova will next face another former major-winner in No.24 seed Victoria Azarenka, who dropped just two games in her own third-round win over No.15 seed Elina Svitolina. The pair played once previously — a three-set win for Azarenka in Ostrava two years ago before Krejcikova's rise into the world's elite — and the Czech said she had the looming former World No.1 on her mind as she was building her comeback. 

"It was also one of the things that I was thinking about during the match," Krejcikova said. "'OK, you got to work harder so you can play Vika.' Yeah, I mean, I feel really, really honored that I am going to play with her on the same court against her. I think it's going to be a great match.

"Playing Vika, it's very special. It's unique. It's a unique situation. I'm really happy that I'm going to be able to face her again and see where my level is right now. I really admire her. I really like the way she plays. I remember when I was a junior here and she was playing, she was actually winning the titles. I spent a lot of time watching her on TV.

"Now having the chance to play against her ... it feels really, really, really nice. I'm looking forward for this challenge, for this battle."

Sakkari secures second berth in Australian Open fourth round

Two years ago, Maria Sakkari's first major breakthrough came at the 2020 Australian Open when she reached the fourth round at a Grand Slam for the first time. She's back in the last 16 in 2022 as a Top 10 player.

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The No.28 seed won 11 of the last 12 games in a 6-4, 6-1 third-round victory over No.28 seed Veronika Kudermetova, booking her spot in the second week without the loss of a set.

From 3-1 down in the opener, Sakkari wore the Russian down in an eventual 82-minute victory. Kudermetova, who racked up 32 unforced errors to just 12 winners, also took an on-court medical timeout while trailing 4-3 in the first set, and won just two more games from then on. 

"It has been a great start, not dropping a set, not getting too tired in my first matches, just finishing the matches in time," Sakkari said.

"It feels great because I feel fresh and I feel ready for the second week. I know that from now on matches are going to get tougher. Not that they were easy, I don't want to sound like that. I think I managed well, my emotions. Haven't been playing maybe my best tennis but I know it's going to come. Mentally I have been in a very good place which I think is the most important thing."

Up next: Sakkari will next face American Jessica Pegula, the No.21 seed and 2021 quarterfinalist, who defeated Spain's Nuria Parrizas-Diaz, 7-6(3), 6-2. It'll be a rematch of one of the most dramatic matches of last season. In the round of 16 of the Miami Open, Sakkari saved six match points before prevailing 6-4, 2-6, 7-6(6).

This is Sparta: How Maria Sakkari saved 6 MPs to edge Pegula in Miami

"I'm expecting a very tough match," Sakkari said. "I think her groundstrokes are very flat and fast. She has a great rhythm. Mentally she's very good. She keeps calm. You'll never see her breaking racquets or doing these things. I think mentally, she's very good. She's mature, which makes it a lot easier. She has a great game overall. But she's a very nice girl so I'm very looking forward to the match."