Melbourne: Czech seventh seed Karolina Pliskova marched into the Australian Open quarter-finals for the third straight year on Monday with a commanding straight sets win over 18th seed Garbine Muguruza of Spain.
Pliskova triumphed 6-3, 6-1 to set up a last eight meeting with either world number one Simona Halep or 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams.
The 26-year-old has been a regular in the second week of Slams in recent years, reaching the quarters or better seven times since late 2016 while still searching for a breakthrough win.
But she said Melbourne Park was her favourite venue after also reaching the quarters in 2017 and 2018. She entered this year's event on a high after winning the Brisbane International warm-up.
"I think I played well. The first set was important where we were both nervous and had close games," Pliskova said.
She went into the match with a 7-2 winning record over Muguruza and always looked confident against the Spaniard. Muguruza never settled and committed 20 unforced errors in the match.
The Spaniard had endured a physically draining late clash with Briton Johanna Konta in the third round that set a tournament record after it began in the early hours of Friday morning.
Muguruza is still seeking the form that propelled her to the world number one ranking and delivered a French Open title in 2016 and Wimbledon a year later.
The pair, both experienced Grand Slam campaigners, exchanged breaks early in the first set.
Both were aggressive as they tried to seize the initiative, with Muguruza unafraid to come to the net and almost getting herself in trouble when a Pliskova lob left her stranded.
The Spaniard struggled to find her radar with her returns, hitting them long to give Pliskova an easy ride on serve.
The Czech gained an edge with a break in the eighth game, sending a looping forehand high across the court and directly into the line.
A despairing Muguruza challenged but the decision stood and Pliskova held easily to take the first set. She followed up with a break in the opening game of the second and notched another in the fifth after on more Muguruza error, putting the match beyond the Spaniard's reach.
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Updated Date: Jan 21, 2019 13:18:32 IST