China’s highest-ranked player Zhang Shuai brushed aside American qualifier Katie Volynets 6-3, 6-2 on Saturday to storm into the women’s singles fourth round of the Australian Open.
The 23rd-seeded Zhang gained a crucial break in the sixth game of the second set and then ran away with a one-sided victory in 63 minutes.
She had 20 winners in a polished performance on her 34th birthday to overwhelm 21-year-old Volynets, who had caused a major boilover in the second round by beating the ninth seed Veronika Kudermetova 6-4, 2-6, 6-2.
Zhang is getting closer to matching her fairytale quarterfinal runs at the Australian Open in 2016 and at Wimbledon in 2019, reports the news agency Xinhua.
To do that she will need to defeat former world No. 1 Karolina Pliskova, who beat Russian Varvara Gracheva 6-4, 6-2.
In the last 16, Zhang joins her compatriot Zhu Lin, who knocked out the sixth seed Maria Sakkari 7-6(3), 1-6, 6-4 in the biggest win of her career.
The 87th-ranked Zhu next plays the 24th-seeded Victoria Azarenka, who won the Australian Open titles in 2012 and 2013.
The 33-year-old Azarenka wound back the clock with an upset third-round victory over the 10th seed Madison Keys 1-6, 6-2, 6-1.