Melbourne - World number one Angelique Kerber set up a
last-16 clash with American Coco Vandeweghe at the Australian Open after blowing
Kristyna Pliskova off court on Friday.
The German defending champion, who was taken to three sets
in her opening two rounds, smashed the hapless Czech 6-0, 6-4 on Rod Laver
Kerber will now face the volatile, racquet-smashing
Vandeweghe, who ended the Grand Slam dreams of Canadian comeback queen Eugenie
Bouchard 6-4, 3-6, 7-5.
"It was not so easy today, she is a tough opponent who
serves well and hits the ball strongly. I tried to stay focused until the last
point," she said.
Kerber added that she watched some of the
Vandeweghe-Bouchard match, and would be ready for the American on Sunday.
"It will be tough against Coco. We have played a few
times before but I'm ready and I'm feeling good," she said.
The 35th-ranked Vandeweghe threw a temper tantrum in her
second-round clash against Pauline Parmentier, slamming her racquet into the
ground three times when she gave away a break point.
But despite her fiercely competitive nature, she largely
kept her emotions in check against Bouchard, only throwing down her racquet
once, but not smashing it.
The women's draw at Melbourne Park has been blown wide open
with the early upsets of third seed Agnieszka Radwanska and fourth ranked
But worryingly for Kerber, Serena Williams - the woman she
beat in last year's final, and then replaced as world number one -- is still in
the hunt and looking ominous.
Williams, chasing a 23rd Grand Slam title, raised a lone
index finger after her round two win on Thursday in a gesture many interpreted
as the American indicating she still considers herself number one.
Top seed Kerber had never met Pliskova before, although she
did beat her twin sister Karolina in the final of the US Open last year.
The German, who turned 29 this week and was serenaded on
court with "Happy Birthday" after her second round win, was always in
Ranked 58, the Czech has never gone beyond a Grand Slam
third round before and Kerber raced through the opening set in just 20 minutes.
It looked like a similar scenario in the second set when she
immediately broke and held serve to win her eighth game in a row.
But Pliskova woke up and unexpectedly got a break herself, but
was unable to stop the world number one romping to an easy victory in under an
Bidding to be the first woman to defend her Australian title
since Victoria Azarenka in 2013, Kerber had a tough time in her opening two
It followed an indifferent lead-up to Melbourne with early
exits in Brisbane and Sydney this month.