MELBOURNE: Rampant Johanna Konta blitzed former world number one Caroline Wozniacki Saturday to set up an intriguing fourth-round Australian Open rematch with Russia’s Ekaterina Makarova.
The British ninth seed, who made the semi-finals last year to kickstart a breakthrough season, discarded the Danish former world number one 6-3, 6-1 on Margaret Court Arena.
It sets up a showdown with Makarova, also a former Melbourne semi-finalist, who upset sixth seed Dominika Cibulkova in three hard-fought sets.
Whoever comes through that test — a repeat of last year’s round of 16 clash, which Konta won — will have the mighty Serena Williams as a potential quarter-final opponent.
“I was very happy with I guess the way I was able to assert myself from the very beginning, also tighten up my game a bit as that first set went on, and just maintain my level to the very end,” said Konta.
“Against someone like Caroline, she’s not going to give it to you. You really do have to earn it and win it till the very last point. I’m just very happy I was able to keep that pressure on.”
Konta, who is on an eight-match win streak after her victory at this month’s Sydney International, had never played Wozniacki before, making for an interesting battle.
The Briton, 25, kept the Dane on the move, pushing her around the baseline as she looked for an opening, which came in the seventh game when she worked Wozniacki wide and came to the net to smash a volley winner.
The confident, Australian-born Brit wasted no time in holding serve then breaking again to secure the set in 42 minutes, hitting an incredible 20 winners to Wozniacki’s one.
Konta likes to play high on the baseline, taking the ball early and dictating the point, a tactic that left Wozniacki struggling.
She broke the 20th-seeded Wozniacki to go 2-0 in front with the Dane, who prides herself on being one of the fittest on tour, having no answers to a player on a hot run of form.
It was one-way traffic as Konta raced to the finish line, leaving a dazed Wozniacki, who has put injury struggles aside and enjoyed a resurgence over the past year, left to wonder what hit her.
Next up is Makarova, whom she beat at the same stage in Melbourne last year on her way to the semis, going 8-6 in the third set.
Makarova, who in 2015 enjoyed a memorable run to the semi-finals, losing to Maria Sharapova, is seeded 30 this year and needed nearly three hours to get past Cibulkova.
She remembers last year’s Konta battle well.
“After that match, she started playing really good and all year at the top level,” she said, adding that physically she felt 100 percent and was ready to get her revenge.