No. 2 seed Serena Williams passed a tough test on Monday at the Australian Open in the form of No. 16 seed Barbora Strycova, beating the all-court Czech 7-5, 6-4 to move into the quarterfinals and a meeting with another hot-handed player, Johanna Konta of Great Britain.
“I feel like it was really good for me to win on probably not my best day, which is always good,” Serena said. “It was really good for me to almost lose that so I know my other game is going pretty good, too.”
Three times Serena trailed by a break in the match against a player not afraid to attack the net against the former No. 1.
“She’s hard to read, she’s scrappy, gets a lot of balls back,” Serena said. “She definitely plays a different game than the other three players I played before. It gave me a different look — it was interesting.”
The American will next meet the No. 9-seeded Konta, who had little problem with No. 30 Ekaterina Makarova, defeating the Russian 6-1, 6-4.
“I have watched her game a lot,” Serena said. “She’s been doing really, really well. She has a very attacking game. I know her game pretty well. I look forward to it.”
Konta says she is also ready for the first-ever meeting with the younger Williams sister.
I believe in my own ability,” she said. “I believe in the good things that I bring to the court, and I believe in my ability to fight till the very end. Now, there’s that and then there’s also an opponent out there, and this one’s going to be Serena Williams. I think it’s about playing, me going out there and doing what I want to do against her, and it will be about just staying focused on that. And if that brings me good things on that day, and if that puts me in a position to come through, then that’s great. But I’ve got to focus on the work and not think of whether I can or cannot beat her. Yeah, I just need to stay on the work.”
Also into the quarters was No. 5 seed Karolina Pliskova, who ended Aussie hopes by rolling past No. 22 Daria Gavrilova 6-3, 6-3.
“I’m definitely happy about this because the match I played against [Jelena] Ostapenko took up a lot of my energy,” Pliskova said. “I felt a little bit tired yesterday, even today too. Definitely happy to be through this one. I have a day off tomorrow, and that’s definitely a good thing. With the roof closed, everything was like little bit different, I felt.”
Pliskova will next face unseeded Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, who beat fellow-unseed Jennifer Brady of the U.S. 6-4, 6-2.
“She beat me I think twice,” Pliskova said. “I beat her twice, I think. Not sure about the head-to-head…I think she was hitting the ball really well, playing fast. These conditions probably suit her as well.”
Women’s quarterfinal matches on Tuesday in Melbourne will be (13) Venus Williams vs. (24) Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, and (7) Garbine Muguruza vs. CoCo Vandeweghe.
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