Victoria Azarenka ready for 'top battles' after reaching Australian Open quarter-finals

Defending champions beats Elena Vesnina in Melbourne

Victoria Azarenka is ready for some “top battles” as she bids to defend her Australian Open crown - starting with a tricky-looking quarter-final against Svetlana Kuznetsova.

Azarenka breezed through her last-16 encounter with Elena Vesnina today, winning 6-1 6-1 in 57 minutes - the latest in a series of mis-matches in the women's draw.

But Kuznetsova is a different proposition.

Having spent the last six months of 2012 recovering from knee surgery, the two-time major champion is now fit and looking good.

"I think it's going to be a very tough match," said top seed Azarenka.

"I can see Sveta has come back much fresher, much stronger.

"She knows how to handle big stages, big tournaments. She's a grand slam champion as well.

"It's definitely an exciting match for me to be in. I'm sure it's going to be really tough but I will give my best."

Azarenka was pleased to have made untroubled progress today after being embroiled in a three-set battle with American Jamie Hampton on Saturday.

World number 47 Vesnina was overpowered and overwhelmed on Rod Laver Arena with Azarenka returning to the kind of form which carried her to the title 12 months ago.

"I felt like I was playing pretty well today," she added.

"I was focused and in control from the beginning. That was important for me.

"I feel like I'm improving from match to match. I just want to keep going the same way.

"With every match you build up, the top battles are starting now and it's exciting to be this far in the tournament."

Kuznetsova, a former world number two whose lay-off has seen her drop to 75, came through a tough three-setter with former world number one Caroline Wozniacki, winning 6-2 2-6 7-5.

And she admitted she had even surprised herself in reaching the last eight.

"If you had asked me before coming to Australia...I would have laughed," she said.

"I have been working hard but still I have not had much time to work on my fitness."

Kuznetsova has won four of her seven meetings with Azarenka but lost both in 2012 and she knows she is facing a player who has developed over the past 12 months.

"She has got calmer, more consistent," she said. "She works differently and has different goals.

"I think her head was letting her down all the time before. She would always go crazy in matches. But she's changed and become more stable."

American Sloane Stephens continued her impressive run in Melbourne by reaching her first grand slam quarter-final with a 6-1 3-6 7-5 defeat of Serbia's Bojana Jovanovski.

The 19-year-old will meet the winner of tonight's clash between title favourite Serena Williams and Maria Kirilenko.

And it was Williams who came through with another masterclass on Rod Laver Arena.

Kirilenko was barely in the contest as the American cruised to a 6-2 6-0 win in under an hour.

PA

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Babysitter Katie and Paul have terse words in the park
tvReview: The strength of the writing keeps viewers glued to their seats even when they are confronted with the hard-hitting scenes
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
American singer, acclaimed actor of stage and screen, political activist and civil rights campaigner Paul Robeson (1898 - 1976), rehearses in relaxed mood at the piano.
filmSinger, actor, activist, athlete: Paul Robeson was a cultural giant. But prejudice and intolerance drove him to a miserable death. Now his story is to be told in film...
Sport
England’s opening goalscorer Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain battles with Scotland’s Charlie Mulgrew
FootballEngland must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil
Life and Style
Make-up artists prepare contestants for last year’s Miss World, held in Budapest
fashion
Sport
Wigan Athletic’s back-of-the shirt sponsor Premier Range has pulled out due to Malky Mackay’s arrival
Football
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

US immigration: President Obama ready to press ahead with long-promised plan to overhaul 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?

Immigration: Obama's final frontier

The President is ready to press ahead with the long-promised plan to overhaul America's 'broken system' - but will it get past a Republican-controlled Congress?
Bill Cosby rape allegations explained: Why are these allegations coming out now? Why didn’t these women come forward earlier? And why has nobody taken legal action?

Bill Cosby rape allegations explained

Why are these allegations coming out now? Why has nobody taken legal action? And what happens next for the man once thought of as 'America's Dad'
Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain

You know that headache you’ve got?

Four years of excruciating seizures caused by the 1cm tapeworm found burrowing through a man's brain
Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?

Scoot commute

Travelling to work by scooter is faster than walking and less sweaty than cycling, so why aren’t we all doing it?
Paul Robeson: The story of how an American icon was driven to death to be told in film

The Paul Robeson story

How an American icon was driven to death to be told in film
10 best satellite navigation systems

Never get lost again: 10 best satellite navigation systems

Keep your vehicle going in the right direction with a clever device
Paul Scholes column: England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil

Paul Scholes column

England must learn to keep possession and dictate games before they are exposed by the likes of Germany and Brazil
Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win says defender as he prepares to return with Hull

Michael Dawson: I’ll thank Spurs after we win

Hull defender faces his struggling former club on Sunday ready to show what they are missing. But he says he will always be grateful to Tottenham
Frank Warren column: Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game

Frank Warren column

Dr Wu has big plans for the professionals yet he should stick to the amateur game
Synagogue attack: Fear unites both sides of Jerusalem as minister warns restoring quiet could take 'months'

Terror unites Jerusalem after synagogue attack

Rising violence and increased police patrols have left residents of all faiths looking over their shoulders
Medecins sans Frontieres: The Ebola crisis has them in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa

'How do you carry on? You have to...'

The Ebola crisis has Medecins sans Frontieres in the headlines, but their work goes far beyond West Africa
Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Isis extends its deadly reach with suicide bombing in Kurdish capital

Residents in what was Iraq’s safest city fear an increase in jihadist attacks, reports Patrick Cockburn
Underwater photography competition winners 2014 - in pictures

'Mysterious and inviting' shot of diver wins photography competition

Stunning image of cenote in Mexico takes top prize
Sir John Major: Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting

Sir John Major hits out at theatres

Negative West End portrayals of politicians put people off voting
Kicking Barbie's butt: How the growth of 3D printing enabled me to make an army of custom-made figurines

Kicking Barbie's butt

How the growth of 3D printing enabled toy-designer to make an army of custom-made figurines