By Melanie Burton
MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Britain’s Johanna Konta firmed up as one of the Australian Open title favorites when she powered into the fourth round on Saturday, comfortably seeing off former world number one Caroline Wozniacki 6-3 6-1 on Margaret Court Arena.
The ninth seed, who is yet to drop a set in the tournament, broke the Dane midway through the first set with a smoking drop shot and never looked back, keeping the pressure up throughout the 75-minute contest.
The 25-year-old will next face Ekaterina Makarova at Melbourne Park as she continues her quest to give Britain its first women’s grand slam singles champion in four decades.
“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,” an upbeat Konta told reporters.
“I’m just very happy I was able to keep that pressure on. I’m very pleased with how I’ve just been able to problem-solve in the last matches that I’ve played, really play myself into matches where I felt I started slowly.”
Konta ratcheted up her powerful first serve, returned deep to keep 17th seed Wozniacki on the back foot and blasted 31 winners to her Danish opponent’s six.
The Sydney-born righthander said she was banking grand slam experience that she hoped would hold her in good stead as she went deeper into the tournament.
“I do try very hard to always make sure I take the good and the things I can improve on from every match that I play and reinvest it into the next match,” she said.
“Whenever the similar situation arises, make sure that’s in my bank and I can use my experience. Hopefully I’m getting a little wiser.”
Konta said was looking forward to another ‘battle’ against 30th seed Makarova, who she beat in the fourth round last year on her way to the semi-finals in Melbourne.
After compatriots Andy Murray and Dan Evans reached the fourth round on Friday, Konta’s progress gave Britain an unprecedented contingent in the second week at Melbourne Park.
Britain has never fielded a trio of any male or female combination in the fourth round of the Australian Open since the grand slam moved from Kooyong in 1988.
While Konta was unwilling to talk of the potential prospect of playing six-times champion Serena Williams in the quarter-finals, Wozniacki was not so coy.
“I think Johanna is playing on a very high level right now,” she told reporters. “If she keeps playing like this, then she has good chance against Serena.”
(Editing by Sudipto Ganguly)