A day after the world No. 1, Angelique Kerber, was upset at the Australian Open, Serena Williams advanced to the quarterfinals. The American will regain top spot in the world rankings if she wins the tournament.
Serena Williams beat Barbora Strycova 7-5, 6-4 on Monday to advance to the last eight, where she is to face Britain's Johanna Konta.
The world No. 2 fought off the tenacious Strycova in two tight sets played in hot conditions to follow her sister Venus into the quarterfinals. The two siblings remain on track for a possible meeting in the final.
"I have absolutely nothing to lose in this tournament," the 35-year-old Williams said. "Everything here is a bonus for me. Obviously I'm here to win. Hopefully I can play better, I can only get better."
After Germany's Angelique Kerber was knocked out in straight sets against Coco Vandeweghe on Sunday, Williams would reclaim the No.1 ranking that the German took from her at last year's US Open if she wins the tournament in Melbourne. The American would also break the Open-era record for Grand Slam titles, 22, which she currently shares with Steffi Graf.
Konta, the ninth seed, reached the quarterfinals with a convincing 6-1, 6-4 victory over Russia's Ekaterina Makarova.
"She's one of the few players still playing I watched growing up. It's an incredible honor and I can't wait to share the court with her," the 25-year-old Konta said, when asked about her next opponent.
Meanwhile, 79th-ranked Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, 34, of Croatia reached her first Grand Slam quarterfinal in 18 years by beating American qualifier Jennifer Brady 6-4, 6-2.
In Monday's other match on the women's side, Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic beat Australia's Daria Gavrilova 6-3, 6-3 to advance.
Nadal, Raonic through, Istomin's run ends
On the men's side, Rafael Nadal defeated Gael Monfils 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 to advance to his 30th Grand Slam quarterfinal. After a match in which the 30-year-old Spaniard had difficulty converting break points, taking just six of 17, he clinched it on his second match point with the Frenchman serving.
Nadal now goes on to face the third seed, Milos Raonic, who advanced to the quarterfinals for a third straight year after escaping with a 7-6 (6), 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 win over Spanish 13th seed, Roberto Bautista Agut. The Canadian is the highest-ranked men's seed remaining after the top seed, Andy Murray, lost in the fourth round and the No. 2, Novak Djokovic, was eliminated in the second.
Elsewhere, 15th-ranked Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria ended wild-card entry Denis Istomin's Cinderella story 2-6, 7-6 (2), 6-2, 6-1 - four days after the Uzbek had knocked Djokovic out of the tournament in the second round.
David Goffin recovered from a set down to beat eighth seed Dominic Thiem of Austria 5-7 7-6 (4), 6-2, 6-2 to become the first Belgian man to ever reach the quarterfinals of the Australian Open.
pfd/rt (Reuters, AP, AFP)