Johanna Konta advanced to an Australian Open quarter-final showdown with Serena Williams after the ninth seed dismantled Ekaterina Makarova 6-1 6-4 in their fourth-round clash on Monday.
The 25-year-old Konta, Britain’s last hope in the singles after Andy Murray and Dan Evans were bundled out on Sunday, took 69 minutes to send the Russian packing in temperatures approaching 35C.
Makarova was no match for Konta’s serve or ground game in the first set as she changed angles and depth of returns that prevented the left-hander from getting any rhythm.
Makarova, who beat sixth seed Dominika Cibulkova in the third round, raced to a 4-1 lead in the second set but Konta rallied to win the next five games and sealed victory on her second match point when the Russian’s forehand sailed over the baseline.
Earlier in the day, Williams battled a misbehaving serve and scorching heat but stayed cool under pressure in a 7-5 6-4 win over Czech Barbora Strycova.
Second seed Williams was broken three times in the opening set at Rod Laver Arena and again when coasting to the finish line in the second but shifted up a gear when it counted to close out the match in one hour and 46 minutes.
“I think she’s a really smart player, she can do everything,” said Williams of the hard-running Strycova, who caused at shock at last year’s tournament by dumping third seed Garbine Muguruza out in the third round.
“It’s always good I have something I can improve on and I know I can do better on my serve.”
Williams, bidding to win a record 23rd grand slam title in the professional era, has now notched 10 consecutive quarter-final appearances at the majors, dating back to the 2014 US Open.