Lucic-Baroni wants husband to pay up, Serena relishing Konta test

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Mirjana Lucic-Baroni said her husband should loosen the purse strings after she reached a first grand slam quarter-final for 18 years, while Serena Williams believes she has nothing to lose at the Australian Open after reaching the last eight.

Unseeded 34-year-old Lucic-Baroni has rolled back the years in Melbourne and can now look forward to facing Karolina Pliskova in the last eight after beating Jennifer Brady 6-4 6-2 on Monday.

The world number 79 has not been this far in a major since her run to the semi-final of Wimbledon back in 1999, but is dreaming of adding to the 1997 junior girls' singles title and the 1998 women's doubles crown at the Australian Open.

While Lucic-Baroni has exceeded expectations, it is no surprise to see Williams still in the hunt for a record 23rd grand slam after the legendary American ousted Barbora Strycova 7-5 6-4 despite making 46 unforced errors and struggling on serve.

The second seed will face Johanna Konta for the first time at the quarter-final stage after the in-form Brit raced past Ekaterina Makarova 6-1 6-4.

Pliskova knocked out Daria Gavrilova in her homeland, with the fifth seed progressing from the fourth round of this tournament for the first time by prevailing 6-3 6-3.

 

LUCIC-BARONI READY TO CASH IN

Lucic-Baroni is in line for a big payday regardless of whether she goes any further this week, but it is not just prize money the veteran Croatian is eyeing as a reward for her exploits.

The surprise package revealed that her husband has two restaurants and she feels it is only right to get a slice of the pie.

Reflecting on her latest win, Lucic-Baroni said: "They're incredible feelings. I've done this sport since I was a little kid. These are kind of, like, awards for all the hard work, for the off-season, incredibly difficult off-season, a lot of work. These are the awards for that. It's very satisfying.

"I feel like my husband should pay me some extra money for this, at least half the restaurant should be mine."

 

LAID-BACK SERENA 'CAN ONLY GET BETTER'

Williams was already the favourite to regain the title before world number one and top seed Angelique Kerber bowed out on Sunday but she is not putting too much pressure on herself despite being so close to making history.

Konta has emerged as a force in a short space of time and Williams is relishing the prospect of facing the ninth seed.

Williams said of Konta: "She's been playing really well. She has a very attacking game. I know her game pretty well. I look forward to it.

"I have absolutely nothing to lose in this tournament. Everything here is a bonus for me. Obviously I'm here to win. Hopefully I can play better, I can only go better."

 

KONTA: I CAN TOPPLE SERENA

Konta headed into the first major of the year by winning the Sydney International without dropping a set and the world number nine has not dropped out in Melbourne as she goes from strength to strength in her country of birth.

The 25-year-old, who broke Makarova four times and made just 13 unforced errors, is confident she can be a match for Williams and reach the semi-final of the Australian Open for a second successive year.

"I believe in my own ability. I believe in the good things that I bring to the court, and I believe in my ability to fight till the very end.

"Now, there's that and then there's also an opponent out there, and this one's going to be Serena Williams.

"I think it's about playing, me going out there and doing what I want to do against her, and it will be about just staying focused on that. And if that brings me good things on that day, and if that puts me in a position to come through, then that's great."