Azarenka continues Melbourne march, Konta makes history


Victoria Azarenka is yet to drop a set at the Australian Open after cruising into the quarter-finals with victory over Barbora Strycova.

The Belarusian was in imperious form once again in Melbourne as she raced to a 6-2 6-4 win in 87 minutes, setting up a last-eight encounter with Angelique Kerber.

Azarenka is not the only player making waves in the bottom half of the women's draw after Johanna Konta reached her first grand slam quarter-final, edging past Ekaterina Makarova in three sets. 



Azarenka's resurgence in 2016 showed no sign of abating as she eased past Strycova. The well-fancied two-time champion remains on course for a third title after reaching her third successive grand slam quarter-final.

Konta becomes the first British female player to reach the last eight of a grand slam in 32 years, when Jo Durie reached the quarter-final at Wimbledon.

Madison Keys fought a thigh injury during her match with Zhang Shuai, telling her physio "it hurts so bad" during one medical time-out. Eventually it got the better of her as Zhang's fairytale run in Melbourne went on - China's world number 133 had never won a match at a major before this tournament, but will now face Konta for a semi-final spot.



Makarova (21) and Keys (15) fell foul of Konta and Zhang's miraculous runs in Melbourne. The unseeded pair will meet in the next round, ensuring an on-form underdog will be present in the final four.



Azarenka is into the Australian Open last eight for the fifth time in her career - her best showing at any of the slams.

Kerber won eight games in a row against Beck to seal her progression, hitting 25 winners along the way.

While Konta's progression continues to impress, she was aided by a number of unforced errors from Makarova, the Russian handing her opponent 60 points across the three sets.



Tributes to Konta's achievements dominated social media on Monday, Pam Shriver praising her for her efforts against Makarova: "Smart Konta practicing her serve while Makarova calls for trainer after she held serve for 1-0 Feels unfair to Konta."

Former British number one Anne Keothavong was delighted to have seen the world number 47 progress, she took to Twitter to say: "Woohoo!!! Incredible achievement from @JoKonta91! She just keeps getting better!"

Jarmila Wolfe - formerly Gajdosova - praises both Keys and Zhang after their fourth round battle: "I am sorry you fought well thru the pain you played with your heart @Madison_Keys hope you feel better soon. Congratulations to @zhangshuai121 for dream run @AustralianOpen hope your dreams continue."



"Mentally, emotionally, physically, I left it all out here on court." - An exhausted Konta revels in her victory over Makarova.

Kerber confident she is going into last eight in fine form: "It's always good to be in the quarters here for the first time. I never reach the quarters. I'm feeling good. I mean, I had a great pre-season. I was trying to transfer it to my matches. It's getting better and better from match to match."

"To play against Vika [Azarenka] is tough because you always try to do something more. There's already a pressure. You know that you have to give everything, which I did, but it was not enough. I felt a little bit my legs at the end because I was running a lot. Unfortunately you have to be better, which I wasn't." - Strycova gives an honest assessment of her performance against Azarenka.



Azarenka will meet Kerber for the seventh time, holding a dominant 6-0 win-loss record against the German ahead of Wednesday's clash.

Meanwhile, world number 47 Konta will meet Zhang - ranked 133 - in the last quarter-final, something few would have predicted prior to the tournament.

Before they meet, the latest meeting between Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams takes place, the latter winning their last 17 encounters - including last year's Australian Open final.



Angelique Kerber (7) beat Annika Beck 6-4 6-0
Victoria Azarenka (14) beat Barbora Strycova 6-2 6-4
Zhang Shuai beat Madison Keys (15) 3-6 6-3 6-3
Johanna Konta beat Ekaterina Makarova (21) 4-6 6-4 8-6