Williams, Stephens set for all-American showdown
Williams aiming to secure 6th success at Melbourne grand slam
As a child, Sloane Stephens decorated her bedroom walls with pictures of the Williams sisters. Later this week, the 19-year-old will play third seed Serena Williams in her first grand slam quarterfinal at the Australian Open.
Stephens, seeded 29th, battled hard on Monday to see off the challenge of Serbia's Bojana Jovanovski 6-1 3-6 7-5 and set up a last eight tie with 15-time grand slam winner Williams.
The pair played each other in the recent Brisbane International event, with Williams emerging with a 6-4 6-3 triumph.
"You've just got to go and treat it like another match," Stephens told a post-match press conference. "It wasn't like, 'Oh, my God, I played Serena, I'm going to be so great at all these other things because she just taught me so much.'
"It was just another match, regular match. Little things that you just take and move on. That was two weeks ago now, three weeks ago ... I played seven other matches or eight other matches, so I'm kind of past what happened then.
"But I think definitely just treat it as another match. You just go out and do your best."
Williams continued her imperious run of form with a 6-2 6-0 defeat of Russia's No. 14 Maria Kirilenko. The 31-year-old is aiming to secure a sixth success at the Melbourne grand slam.
World No. 1 Victoria Azarenka could face Williams in the semifinals. The defending champion eased into the last eight with a straight-forward 6-1 6-1 win against Russian Elena Vesnina.
"I was focused and in control from the beginning," said Belarus' Azarenka. "That was important for me. I feel like I'm improving from match to match. I just want to keep going the same way."
Next up for Azarenka is another Russian in the shape of Svetlana Kuznetsova, who got the better of former world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki. Denmark's Wozniacki is still searching for the first grand slam title of her career.
"You obviously don't feel great when you lose, so I think that's pretty obvious," explained 10th seed Wozniacki. "But it was a close game. I had my chances and I didn't take them. I could have won but I didn't.
"I'm encouraged about the way I played and the way I came out of some situations and the way I was playing the points. Obviously I would have loved to have won today, but it didn't happen."
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