Two-time champion Victoria Azarenka has continued her impressive run into the quarter-finals of the Australian Open with a 6-2 6-4 victory over Czech Barbora Strycova.
The No.14 seed from Belarus has dropped just 11 games in her first four matches and shapes as the biggest title threat to world No.1 Serena Williams.
The Australian Open has traditionally been a happy hunting ground for Azarenka, whose only two major titles to date came at Melbourne Park in 2012 and 2013.
Strycova had her moments in Monday’s match without ever really threatening to emulate her shock third-round victory over No.3 seed Garbine Muguruza from Spain.
Strycova has now been beaten by Azarenka at Melbourne Park in each of the past three Opens.
“She’s such a tough opponent and I’m just so happy I went though,” said Azarenka.
“I played smart, I played aggressive.”
Azarenka’s quarter-final opponent will be No.7 seed Angelique Kerber, who advanced to the Australian Open quarter-finals for the first time with a 6-4 6-0 victory over fellow German Annika Beck.
After being down match point in her first-round encounter against Japan’s Misaki Doi, Kerber has built steadily through the tournament.
In nine previous visits to Melbourne Park, Kerber’s best efforts were reaching the fourth round in 2013 and 2014.