Melbourne: An 11th Australian Open quarter-final beckons for Serena Williams while Rafael Nadal targets his ninth Monday as the two giants of the game look to add new chapters to their storied careers.
They will be doing all they can to avoid becoming the lastest top seeds to crash from the season's opening Grand Slam, following the shock early exits of Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic.
Williams, who lost last year's final to Angelique Kerber, plays Czech 16th seed Barbora Strycova and has the added incentive of knowing sister Venus has already made the last eight.
The sisters are in opposite sides of the draw and could meet in the final.
The American, on track to break Steffi Graf's Open-era record of 22 Grand Slam titles if she lifts the Melbourne trophy for a a seventh time, said she was taking nothing for granted against Strycova.
"I've seen her play a lot. Venus has played her a few times. I saw her play in Sydney. She's super-fit. She has a good game. She's very aggressive, so that would be nice to play," said the 35-year-old.
"Again, I don't have anything to prove in this tournament here. Just doing the best I can."
They face each other in an early match on Rod Laver Arena in forecast temperatures of up to 35 Celsius (95 Fahrenheit).
If she beats the Czech, she will face either in-form British ninth seed Johanna Konta or Russia's Ekaterina Makarova, who are playing on Margaret Court Arena.
Other women vying for the last eight include Croatian veteran Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, a former 1990s prodigy who has relaunched her career after personal trauma, financial constraints and injury.
She plays American qualifier Jennifer Brady, while fifth-seeded Karolina Pliskova is up against local hope Daria Gavrilova in a night match.
The final evening match features 14-time Grand Slam champion Nadal, who staged a magnificent fightback to beat rising German star Alexander Zverev in a five-set, third-round thriller.
The Spaniard, returning from an injury-marred 2016, won at Melbourne Park in 2009, but it has never been his best tournament. He takes on flamboyant sixth seed Gael Monfils.
"He had an amazing year last year. He started the season again playing very well. It's going to be a big, big match. Very tough one. I need to play my best," he said of the Frenchman.
Getting past Monfils would potentially set Nadal up with a semi-final against Canadian third seed Milos Raonic, who takes on Spain's Roberto Agut Bautista on Hisense Arena.
Elsewhere, giant-killer Denis Istomin, who ousted Djokovic, bids to extend his memorable tournament against Bulgaria's Grigor Dimitrov.
Austrian eighth seed Dominic Thiem plays Belgium's David Goffin, with both men hoping to reach the quarter-finals for the first time.
Published Date: Jan 23, 2017 07:12 AM | Updated Date: Jan 23, 2017 07:16 AM