Dominika Cibulkova won a see-saw battle with former champion Victoria Azarenka under the roof on Rod Laver Arena to book her place in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open today.
A morning rain shower soon cleared in Melbourne but the roof remained closed for the duration of a hard-fought fourth-round clash which 11th seed Cibulkova eventually won 6-2 3-6 6-3.
The 25-year-old Slovakian, who reached her first grand slam final here last year, trailed 2-0 in the opening set before producing some inspired tennis to win the next six games in a row.
Azarenka, who won the title in 2012 and 2013 but was unseeded this year due to an injury-plagued 2014, also claimed a 2-0 lead in the second set but this time gained another break of serve and she eventually took her second chance to serve out the set.
The 25-year-old amazingly led 2-0 in the decider as well but was broken straight back and lost her serve twice more as Cibulkova advanced to a last-eight clash with Serena Williams or Spain’s Garbine Muguruza.
“I just walked on court and all the great memories come to my mind,” said Cibulkova, who lost to Li Na in last year’s final. “I just have to believe in myself and that’s what I am doing right now.
“The first set I was killing her from the forehand and then she started stepping inside the court and to serve much better. I felt like I had to put in something extra and play really, really good and that’s what I did.”
Top seed Williams overcame another slow start - and a coughing fit - to beat Muguruza in three sets and gain a measure of revenge for her defeat at the hands of the 24th seed in the second round of the French Open.
Muguruza won 6-2 6-2 at Roland Garros last year and threatened to do the same on Rod Laver Arena as she won four games in a row from 2-2 in the opening set.
Williams, who had to save three set points against Vera Zvonareva in round two and then came from a set down to defeat Elina Svitolina, won the second set 6-3 to level the match and then crucially held serve at the start of the decider.
The world number one had to save six break points in an epic game lasting 13 minutes and then immediately broke a disheartened opponent on her way to taking the set by a flattering 6-2 scoreline.
Williams then thanked a spectator for some valuable advice in an on-court interview, adding: “She (Muguruza) played so well and she did everything she needed to do in the first set.
“I just decided to do my best and stay focused and stay relaxed. She hits the ball really, really big and hard, but someone in the crowd was like ’Use spin’. I was like ’Okay’ and it really helped me.”
Williams struggled with a cough during the match and the interview, the 33-year-old admitting she had been “a little sick the past couple of days”.