Melbourne - Top seed Serena Williams staged a barnstorming comeback to reach the
Australian Open quarter-finals on Monday, defeating Spain's Garbine
Muguruza in a three-set dogfight.
The American 18-time Grand Slam
champion beat the 24th seed 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 to set up a final eight clash
with last year's finalist Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia, seeded 11.
Williams, 33, is chasing her sixth Australian title and could lose her coveted number one ranking if she fails.
the lacklustre starts that have plagued her this year at Melbourne Park
continued against the highly rated Spanish 21-year old, who seized her
chance and took the first set.
"I didn't start out so well and she
did everything she needed to do in the first set, so I just decided to
do my best, stay focused and relax," Williams said.
into the match with a 1-1 record against Williams, including bouncing
her from last year's French Open, and showed no signs of nerves against
the world number one.
Yelling "c'mon Serena, play better",
Williams struggled for consistency, sending down two aces but committing
two crucial unforced errors when she conceded a second break that
gifted Muguruza the first set.
An early break in the second set
was squandered when Muguruza broke back and again refused to buckle as
Williams hammered away at her serve.
The American's persistence
finally paid off and she broke Muguruza then belted down three straight
aces to force a deciding set in style.
But she blew three break points in the opening game of the third, telling herself "relax, relax" after shanking a forehand wide.
was then Williams' turn to come under pressure, surviving six break
points in a game that stretched almost 15 minutes, then comfortably
breaking the Spaniard in the next.
It proved a turning point, with
the dispirited Muguruza offering little further resistance as Williams
wrapped up the match in exactly two hours.