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Last Updated Saturday May 27 2017 07:16 PM IST

Australian Open: Konta sets up quarterfinal clash with Serena

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Johanna Konta Johanna Konta makes a forehand return in her fourth round match against Ekaterina Makarova at the Australian Open in Melbourne on Monday. Getty Images

Melbourne: Johanna Konta earned the chance to fulfill a childhood dream when she advanced to an Australian Open quarterfinal contest against Serena Williams by dismantling Ekaterina Makarova 6-1, 6-4 on Monday.

The 25-year-old ninth seed, Britain's last hope of a singles title after Andy Murray and Dan Evans were bundled out on Sunday, took 69 minutes to send her Russian opponent packing in temperatures approaching 35 degrees Celsius.

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It secured her a first meeting with 22-time Grand Slam champion Serena, who won the first of her six Melbourne Park crowns when Konta was an 11-year-old growing up in the Sydney suburbs.

"She's one of the players still playing who I looked up to as a young girl wanting to be a professional tennis player," said Konta.

"It's an incredible honor and I will cherish every moment out there."

It was with her run to the semifinals as world No. 47 at Melbourne Park last year that Konta first gave notice that she had the game to take on the best in the world.

Extensive work with a sports psychologist had helped Konta rid her game of the mental collapses in big moments that marred the early years of her career and on Monday she explained how she was now able to cope.

"When you get to a position where you might see a glimmer of what you have dreamed of as a little girl or what you hoped for, what you've worked so hard for, it can feel kind of an all-or-nothing moment or, 'What if I never get this chance again?'" she told reporters.

"You have also got to have a good perspective on things, and you've got to keep, I guess, the simple things in mind of what's important to you.

"Are you healthy? Is your family healthy? Do you have people around you that you love? Do you have people around you that love you?

"I know it might sound really mundane and simple, but you've got to go back to things that have got substance, and then in the end just trust in the work that you do."

Konta has shown enormous mental fortitude in reaching the last eight without dropping a set after demolishing the hopes of Denmark's Caroline Wozniacki, Japan's Naomi Osaka and Belgium's Kirsten Flipkens.

On Monday, Makarova was no match for Konta's serve or ground game in the first set as she changed angles and depth of returns that prevented the left-hander from getting any rhythm.

The Russian, who beat sixth seed Dominika Cibulkova in the third round, raced to a 4-1 lead in the second, set but Konta rallied to win the next five games.

Konta sealed victory on her second match point when the Russian's forehand sailed over the baseline to move into the quarterfinals as a serious title contender.

Her next match will be the stiffest test yet of those credentials.

"I believe in my own ability," said Konta. "I believe in the good things that I bring to the court, and I believe in my ability to fight till the very end."

Serena Williams Serena Williams celebrates winning her fourth round match against Czech Republic's Barbora Strycova. Reuters

Serena battled a misbehaving serve and scorching heat but stayed cool under pressure in a 7-5, 6-4 win over Czech Barbora Strycova to reach the quarterfinals.

Second seed Serena was broken three times in the opening set at Rod Laver Arena and again when coasting to the finish line in the second, but shifted up a gear when it counted to close out the match in one hour and 46 minutes.

"I think she's a really smart player, she can do everything," said Serena of the hard-running Strycova, who caused at shock at last year's tournament by dumping third seed Garbine Muguruza out in the third round.

"It's always good I have something I can improve on and I know I can do better on my serve."

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