WOMEN’S action on day six of the Australian Open is headlined by Victoria Azarenka, Ana Ivanovic, Madison Keys, Garbiñe Muguruza, Angelique Kerber and Karolina Pliskova.
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Third seed Muguruza crashes out
Garbine Muguruza has crashed out of the Australian Open, going down 6-3 6-2 to 48th-ranked Czech Barbara Strycova.
The Spaniard became the 22st women’s seed to make an exit from the tournament in 76 minutes.
Strycova got an early break and while Muguruza wasted no time getting the set back on serve, things didn’t improve from there, with unforced errors far outweighing her impressive winner count.
It is Strycova’s best performance at a grand slam, having made the third round last year, and admitted she was “very happy”.
“The plan was to play the best tennis I can and hang in there, but I thought I was playing pretty good and I was playing also very deep balls, which was working,” she said.
“I felt good on court today.”
Strycova will play Victoria Azarenka in the next round.
Brit breaks fourth round drought
It’s taken almost 20 years, but Great Britain has a woman in the Australian Open fourth round, thanks to Johanna Konta.
Konta – the first British woman to make the fourth round since 1987 - made short work of Czech Denisa Allertova, winning 6-2 6-2, but she said the scoreboard was no reflection of how hard she had to work.
“It was not easy out here today,” she said.
“She’s an incredibly tough opponent and I had an incredibly tough match against her last year at the French Open, so I knew I really had to run down every single ball. It definitely wasn’t easy.”
Konta, who was born in Australia, has been rapt with the support she has received on her former home soil.
“It is a home for me so thank you to everybody for coming out, whether you’re Australian or British, thank you for supporting me throughout this whole week so far,” she said.
On Margaret Court Arena, Ekaterina Makarova eliminated ninth seed Karolina Pliskova 6-3 6-2, meaning 21 seeds are now out of the women’s draw.
Konta and Makarova will play in the fourth round on Monday.
Kerber turns on the style
Angelique Kerber crushed Madison Brengle and set up an all-German fourth round clash with Annika Beck.
Kerber, who survived a match point scare in the opening round, was on fire against the American, ranked 49, rattling through the match on Margaret Court Arena 6-1 6-3 in under an hour.
It sets her up for a showdown against Beck, ensuring at least one German in the quarter-finals. Beck beat another German, Laura Siegemund, 6-0 6-4.
“It’s great to have an all-German match. It means one will be in the next round,” said Kerber.
She was too clinical for the unseeded Brengle, who had failed to beat Kerber, who won four tournaments last year, on three previous occasions.
Azarenka looming as big threat
Victoria Azarenka said she is thriving on the pressure at the Australian Open, channelling her energy to good effect as she swept into the fourth-round.
The former world No.1 was in ominous touch as she thrashed Japanese qualifier Naomi Osaka 6-1 6-1 in 56 minutes on Rod Laver Arena to make it eight consecutive last-16 appearances at Melbourne Park.
It opens up a path to the quarter-finals for the Belarusian, with third seed Garbine Muguruza no longer a concern.
Azarenka, 27, has been in top early-season form, winning the Brisbane International and racing through her opening three matches in Melbourne for the loss of just five games.
After a torrid two years battling injuries, the 14th seed is back on a roll and is a clear threat to world number one and defending champion Serena Williams, who she could meet in the final.