After Sunday’s completion of the quarterfinal field in the top half of the draw, Monday’s Australian Open action featured four round of 16 women’s singles matches that defined the bottom half quarterfinalists: Serena Williams, Johanna Konta, Karolina Pliskova and Lucic-Baroni.
Facing a decent challenge in seed No.16 Barbora Strycova, Williams remained on course for a seventh Australian Open title, even though only 45% of her first serves went in. At moments the second-seeded Williams did exhibit her destroying powers, but overall her performance was far from her most fluent, as 28 winners were outweighed by 46 unforced errors.
Williams’ next opponent will be the ninth-seeded Konta, who produced another terrific performance to down seed No.30 Ekaterina Makarova 6-1 6-4 and enter the quarterfinals without dropping a set. Konta was dominant in every aspect of the game and when her level briefly dropped in the second set, allowing Makarova to establish a 4-1 lead, the Brit came storming back with five games in a row. With her Sydney title, Konta is now on a winning streak of nine matches and 18 sets.
Unseeded 34-year-old Mirjana Lucic-Baroni of Croatia, who started the tournament by winning her first main-draw match at the Australian Open in 19 years, then continued with a huge victory over world No.3 Agnieszka Radwanska, built up on it by beating Maria Sakkari in the third round and now she’s through to her first Grand Slam quarterfinal in 18 years by ending another Melbourne’s feel-good story, that of American qualifier Jennifer Brady, who had saved five match points to upset Heather Watson in the second round. The veteran, who said of herself “I am a tough little cookie and really stubborn”, beat the 21-year-old Brady 6-4 6-2, losing just six points on first serve.
Lucic-Baroni’s quarterfinal obstacle will be fifth seed Karolina Pliskova, who presented extreme confidence and power in a straightforward 6-3 6-3 victory over Australian 22nd seed Daria Gavrilova.
To sum up, the 2017 Australian Open quarterfinal pairs are: Coco Vandeweghe (eliminator of world No.1 and title defender Angelique Kerber) vs. Garbine Muguruza, Venus Williams vs. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Karolina Pliskova vs. Mirjana Lucic-Baroni and Serena Williams vs. Johanna Konta.