In a battle of two of the tour’s pocket dynamos, Dominika Cibulkova has made short work, so to speak, of Spain’s Carla Suarez Navarro 6-1 6-0 in just 59 minutes before a packed Margaret Court Arena on Saturday.
The Slovakian 20th seed came into the match seeded just four places below the Spaniard and a full 1cm shorter than her 1.62m opponent, but while evenly matched on paper, the result could not have been more lopsided.
Cibulkova, renowned for her explosive power off the ground, thumped 20 winners to her opponent’s paltry two.
She raced to 5-0 in just 16 minutes and the Spaniard’s last loss in a major must have been subconsciously taunting her.
In reaching the US Open quarterfinals last year, Suarez Navarro was handed a humiliating 25th birthday surprise, a 6-0, 6-0 drubbing from Serena Williams.
Where Suarez Navarro would typically pick up free points from the sublime single-handed backhand – which dismantled Venus Williams on her way to the 2009 quarterfinals – she was misfiring from the get-go on Saturday and appeared sluggish throghout.
Heavy strapping on her upper right thigh was a lingering result of having battled for 3hr 10min to beat Kazakhstan’s Galina Voskoboeva 8-6 in the third set in her second round match.
Cibulkova, in contrast, had dropped just one game in the same round against Switzerland’s Stefanie Voegele.
But coming into the match, she had reached the fourth round at Melbourne Park just once in six appearances, back in 2009.
“I really love Melbourne and I love coming back here but my results here were not always as I wish so this is my second fourth round and I’m just so glad to be here,” she said.
“I played really well today, I was aggressive and I know that Carla had a tough match behind her in the second round so I knew I have to be aggressive, make her move and that’s what I did today.
“I’ve practised with her a couple of times but practise is different. You know, these girls, we’re on tour for so long, so we know each other and what to expect so I was really looking forward to this match today.”
Maria Sharapova now stands between Cibulkova and a breakthrough Australian Open quarterfinal berth.
While giving up a full 27cm and 21 places in the rankings to her Russian opponent, she has beaten her two of the five times they’ve played. Not as tall an ask as it may appear.