British No1 Johanna Konta could become the first woman from these shores to reach a grand slam quarter-final for 32 years when she meets Ekaterina Makarova at the Australian Open on Monday.
Konta has already beaten former world No1 Venus Williams in Melbourne this month, one of the most recent highlights of the 24-year-old’s extraordinary blossoming over the last 12 months.
Last year Konta failed to qualify for the tournament and was ranked 147th in the world; now she is poised to break the top 40 and this morning can equal Jo Durie’s run to the last eight of Wimbledon in 1984.
Russian Makarova was the first top-10 player to be beaten by Konta, on the grass of Eastbourne last summer at the start of the Sydney-born rising star’s ascendance.
Konta went on to reach the last 16 of the US Open, where she fell to former Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, but can go one better by beating Makarova, a semi-finalist here in 2015.
Defending champion Serena Williams set up a repeat of last year’s final against Maria Sharapova by thrashing Russia Margarita Gaspayran 6-2, 6-1 yesterday.
Sharapova, who has won just three sets in 17 consecutive defeats by world No1 Williams, beat Belinda Bencic of Switzerland 7-5, 7-5.