Melbourne - Johanna Konta blasted into her second Australian
Open quarter-final in as many years Monday, setting up a glamour clash with
The in-form British ninth seed, on a nine-game winning
streak, crushed Russian 30th seed Ekaterina Makarova 6-1, 6-4 in searing heat
on Margaret Court Arena.
It sets up an intriguing quarter-final with second seed
Williams, who battled through a testing match against Czech 16th seed Barbora
Strycova 7-5, 6-4.
"I came out playing at a high level then she was able
to pull herself back into it, which made it really difficult. I just tried to
trust in myself," she said, adding that meeting Williams would be a dream
"It will be an incredible honour and I can't
This time last year Konta, 25, was a largely unknown entity,
but her run to the last four in 2016 put her on the map and she followed it up
with a stellar season that saw her named the WTA's most improved player.
She has carried that form into 2017, winning the build-up
Sydney International and she is yet to drop a set in Melbourne, emerging as a
genuine title contender.
The pair had met three times before with Konta winning all
of them, including at the same stage of the Australian Open last year, and
Makarova never looked like getting revenge.
A former Melbourne semi-finalist, in 2015, the Russian upset
sixth seed Dominika Cibulkova to set up the Konta meeting but the
Australian-born Briton is in ominous touch, looking solid and focused.
She came out of the blocks firing, snatching a break to go
2-0 in front and another for 5-1 as she whacked 11 winners, with just four
unforced errors, to take the set in just 24 blistering minutes.
Konta kept Makarova on the move early in the second set, but
despite being belted in the first game the Russian came back strongly as the
Briton struggled to counter some pinpoint forehands from the towering
But Konta's never-say-die attitude again came to the fore
and she reeled off five games in a row, and then nervelessly fended off three
break points when serving for the match before sealing victory.