World No 1 Simona Halep set up a headline last 16 showdown with Serena Williams by beating her sister Venus at the Australian Open Saturday.
On day six at Melbourne Park, the Romanian finally hit form to pull off her best win of the tournament and cruise past the veteran American 6-2, 6-3.
“I was super-motivated today,” she said after being taken to three sets in both her opening two matches as she bounces back from a herniated disc that ended her 2018 season early.
“I have nothing to lose,” she added, looking ahead to Monday’s clash against 23-time Grand Slam winner Serena. “I playing against a great champion. It’s going to a bigger challenge but I’m ready to face it.”
Serena Williams earlier crushed Ukrainian Dayana Yastremska 6-2, 6-1 before consoling her at the net as the teenager burst into tears.
The 16-seeded 37-year-old has been in ominous form so far, dropping just nine games in her three matches so far on her first return to the tournament since winning it in 2017 while pregnant.
“I just play each match at a time, play as hard as I can and do the best I can. That really is all you can do,” she said as she zeroes in on an eighth Australian title and a record-equalling 24th Slam crown.
Fourteen-time Grand Slam winner and top seed Novak Djokovic cranked up another gear in his quest for a record seventh Australian title.
He dropped a set for the first time this year against fast-rising Canadian Denis Shapovalov, before demolishing him in the fourth stanza to win 6-3, 6-4, 4-6, 6-0.
“I just tried to be in the moment and weather the storm,” said the Serb.
Djokovic’s victory means he is guaranteed to stay world No 1 when the new rankings are released after the tournament.
He next plays another up-and-coming star, Russia’s 15th seed Daniil Medvedev, who eased past David Goffin and has yet to drop a set.
Another young gun Alexander Zverev made the last 16 for the first time when he swatted aside Australian Alex Bolt in three sets and will play former world No 3 Milos Raonic for a place in the quarterfinals.
Fourth seed Naomi Osaka looked down and out against Taiwanese veteran Hsieh Su-wei before battling back to win 7-5, 4-6, 6-1 and set up meeting with Latvia’s Anastasija Sevastova.