Samantha Stosur’s Australian Open hopes have soared after the resurgent former grand slam champion stormed into the Sydney International quarter-finals for the first time in 11 years.
Stosur plundered eight aces and only faced one break point on her serve all match in casting aside Daniela Hantuchova 6-4 6-2 in 85 minutes on Tuesday.
The straight-sets rout vaulted the home hope into the last eight for the first time since losing the 2005 final to Alicia Molik.
“It’s great. Obviously I’ve played here many times. Yeah, it’s nice to win back-to-back matches,” Stosur said.
“So, yeah, obviously the start of the season this is what I want. I haven’t been able to do this for a while.
“Definitely a good feeling.”
Stosur could be feeling even better on Wednesday night.
The world No.27 next faces qualifier Monica Puig for a place in the last four and has yet to drop a set against the Puerto Rican in four previous meetings.
“I’ve had really good success against her so far,” Stosur said.
“But, look, she’s a young player who really goes for broke. She plays very aggressive. On her day, it’s hard to play against.
“So far I’ve been able to kind of combat that quite well, so hopefully I can do that again.”
With the seeded big guns continuing to drop like flies, Stosur is fast firming as a favourite to complete a dream Open build-up with a run to the final.
“I’m having a good preparation. It’s all going well. I would like for it to continue this way,” said the one-time US Open champion and former world No.4.
World No.7 Angelique Kerber was the latest withdrawal in Sydney with Germany’s fourth seed citing gastrointestinal illness after pulling the pin on her scheduled second-round match against Ekaterina Makarova.
Kerber’s exit follows the withdrawal of defending champion Petra Kvitova (gastro) and world No.4 Agnieszka Radwanska (leg).
“I don’t want to risk my health before Melbourne,” Kerber said.
But Czech fifth seed Karolina Pliskova and Swiss eighth seed Belinda Bencic avoided the carnage to join Stosur in the quarter-finals on Tuesday.
Pliskova is looking ominous after breezing into the last eight with a 6-3 6-0 win over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
The 2015 Sydney runner-up is yet to drop a set in her two matches and is on course for a quarter-final showdown with top seed Simona Halep, who takes on Frenchwoman Caroline Garcia later on Tuesday night.
Bencic rolled former winner Tsvetana Pironkova 6-3 6-3, while Sara Errani also progressed, after the Italian disposed of Serbia’s ex-world No.1 Jelena Jankovic.
Errani, the 2012 French Open runner-up, will play Svetlana Kuznetsova in the quarter-finals after the Russian ousted Sabine Lisicki 6-3 3-6 6-2.