MELBOURNE: Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka wasted little energy in making the Australian Open last eight on Monday as Svetlana Kuznetsova roared back to form with a tournament upset.
Third seed Williams, gunning for her sixth Australian title, blitzed a dazed Maria Kirilenko 6-2, 6-0 and has conceded just eight games in the tournament so far.
That equalled the previous record held by Monica Seles and Steffi Graf, but Williams’ main rival Maria Sharapova has already set a new mark by getting to the same stage by losing just five games.
The two are scheduled to meet in the final. Williams summed up her performances so far as “consistency, fighting”.
“I’m really out there just doing the best I can, just fighting for everything,” she said. “I think with that attitude I’m just trying to stay in the tournament just to stay alive.” She next faces exciting American teenager Sloane Stephens, who beat Serb Bojana Jovanovski in a tough 6-1, 3-6, 7-5 battle to make her first Grand Slam quarter-final.
Like Williams, top seed Azarenka took less than an hour to dispose of Elena Vesnina 6-1, 6-1 to set up a last eight meeting with Kuznetsova, a two-time Grand Slam winner who spent two months on crutches last year.
The experienced Russian needed a tense 2hrs 28mins to oust 10th seed and former world number one Caroline Wozniacki 6-2, 2-6, 7-5.