British player Johanna Konta defeated Russian Ekaterina Makarov to set up a quarter-final clash with Serena Williams, who also won her bout in straight sets. Konta, seeded ninth, saw off 30th seed Makarova while Serena managed to overcome a period of brilliant gameplay from the 16th seeded Czech player Barbora Strycova to win 7-5, 6-4.
This is the first time that Konta will face Serena, having made it into the last eight without dropping a single set. She made it to the semi-finals in the Rod Laver Arena last year and is revelling at the opportunity to take on the 22-time Grand Slam winner in the next round.
"Believe it or not that's an incredible experience for me. She's one of the few players still playing who I watched growing up. As a young girl wanting to be a professional tennis player, it's an incredible honour and I can't wait to play on court with her," Konta said, as quoted by the BBC.
"Once out on court, against anyone, anyone is out there to compete. Hopefully I'll come off as the winner. In terms of enjoying the opportunity and the competition, I will cherish every minute out there."
Konta's rise in the last year has been meteoric to say the least and she has duly established herself as one of the major candidates to take home the title. Konta made her way into Melbourne having won her second WTA title in Sydney, the city she was born in, and her victory over Makarova on Monday has stretched her run of wins to nine matches and 18 sets in a row.
Her never say die attitude came to the fore in the second set where a flurry of faults saw her trail by 4-1. But she came back to win the set 6-4, and made it five games on the bounce. Makarova, who lost to Konta in Melbourne last year, struggled to match the pace of the Briton and gave in to the pressure.
"I think I came out definitely playing at a higher level than she did but she really put herself back into that match and made it difficult for me," said Konta. "The way she pulled away in the second set, I don't feel like I did much wrong, she started playing some incredible tennis."
Meanwhile, Serena made hard work of her opponent as she fell down a break of serve thrice in the opening set but came back on each account to win the contest.
"She's a really smart player — she can do pretty much everything," Williams said of Strycova. "It was a really good match for me and I'm glad I came through it."