INTO THE LAST 8 AND COUNTING DOWN

By Craig Gabriel

MELBOURNE, Australia: Sensational Serena made her way across the court at Rod Laver Arena and never gave Maria Kirilenko any chance, securing a place in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open for the first time since 2010, when she last won the title, and for the eighth time overall.

It took Serena 57 minutes to record the 6-2, 6-0 score line which is her sixth win form as many matches against Kirilenko. All up she has lost only eight games in the tournament so far.

“I take out of this consistency, fighting.  I’m really out there just doing the best I can, just fighting for everything,” Serena said. “I think with that attitude I’m just trying to stay in the tournament just to stay alive.”

Kirilenko said she was trying to do too much. She was trying to “something special” which resulted in “so many mistakes”. It played right onto Serena’s racquet strings as she just played her normal power game with great accuracy. The Russian was not allowed to get into any sort of rhythm as points were kept short.

Serena’s serve was right on the mark as well. Her first serve percentage was a stunning 87% and she was winning 82% of those points. With figures like that, how can anyone compete with her? It is remarkable. Kirilenko never got a look in as she put the pressure on herself.

“I definitely have never hit that high of a percentage because I take a lot of chances with my serve,” she said. “It was good.  But I really want to be able to keep it up.”

Serena plays Sloane Williams next which will be a fascinating contest. They played just before the Australian Open in Brisbane and Serena won that en route to the title.

“I took a lot from that match; she plays well and like I said after the match, she can be the greatest player,” Serena said. “I feel like for me it will be another good match and a good opportunity for both of us.  Definitely one of us will be in the semifinals, which I think is awesome.  So it’s going to be good.”

Serena was asked if she thought that she was also a bit of a mentor to Stephens. She wasn’t sure if that was specifically the case. She feels being the older one, that maybe some of the younger players look up to her.

Serena added: “It’s hard to be a real mentor when you’re still in competition.  So I think it’s a little bit of everything. I feel no responsibility. I doubt she has any expectations of me to be responsible for anything.  Maybe she does.  I don’t know.

“I’m here to compete and do the best I can, as well as she. And she’s been doing really amazing. I’m really happy. I have a tough match, so we’ll see.”