Victoria Azarenka sent out a thunderous warning to the rest of the survivors as she demolished fellow Grand Slam champion Ana Ivanovic in 61 minutes on Monday to clinch a quarter-final place at Wimbledon.
The Centre Court crowd held its breath as Azarenka,the Belarusian who won the Australian Open this year, powered through 6-1, 6-0 on the back of some unflinching hitting, which underlined both her form and her confidence.
Azarenka is now in the seventh quarter-final of her career and if she can maintain her form from Monday will become a threat to any other opponent in decisive stages of the Championships.
Azarenka was concerned about the condition of the Centre Court before the match began, testing the surface with her hand and feet before Championships referee Andrew Jarrett came on to check the conditions.
Ivanovic knows the demands of life at the top. She was French champion in 2008 – the second Serb to win there after Monica Seles – but may not have anticipated the heavy attack which Azarenka launched against her.
The pressure from Azarenka was on from the start and what might have been a significant opening from the 14th-seeded Ivanovic turned into a quick reversal as she lost her first serve. Azarenka won through on her third break point in the eight-minute first game and Ivanovic finished with a double fault.
After her early fears about the court surface Azarenka continued to move well and hit hard. She held serve to love, broke Ivanovic to love for 3-0 and clinched a 4-0 lead with an ace.
Only then did Ivanovic gain her only game of the first set with some improved serving. In the next game, with Azarenka at 40-15 on serve, rain stopped play and caused a stoppage of 39 minutes while the roof was put in place.
Ivanovic tried to pull another game back when the match restarted, took one point with a stop volley, but could not halt Azarenka any more as the Belorusian gained the set 6-1.
The agony continued for Ivanovic. She missed a break point at the start of the second set but the mood and execution of the contest stayed almost totally in Azarenka's favour.
Ivanovic had some more comforting points but could not string successive points together.
At the start of the fifth game a stray pigeon shed some of its feathers as it hovered around the rafters and Azarenka carefully picked up the debris and put it to the side of the court before resuming. She had a break point against her, only the second in the contest, before holding for 5-0.
Ivanovic tried to find some face-saving points in the final game and had two points for her first game of the set. But she double-faulted on the second and two attacks on the Ivanovic backhand side saw Azarenka through.
"Today was obviously a great day, I had a good match. I stayed really focused and tough throughout the whole match even though we had to go off court,'' Azarenka said. ''It was different conditions. But I adapted really well, I stayed in the zone the whole time. It's about adaptation. I adapted really well to make sure I was the one controlling the game."
Regarding her next opponent, Tamira Paszek, she said: "I'ts definitely going to be a difficult match. She's been showing some amazing results, especially the match where she was down match points. It really shows a lot of toughness in her. I'm really looking forward to it. We played here last year. I'm sure this year is doing to be a different story but I'm up for the challenge."
20:08It brings me no pleasure but it's time to bring the curtain down for another year. Seemed somehow appropriate to leave the last word to Roger Federer. Thanks a billion for reading. What a fortnight, what a final, fast forward to 2015 please...
20:03"I already have seven. It's not like I need another one. But it would have been awfully nice to have it. I think that's what the feeling was of the people, and I felt that... I know they love tennis. They love tennis after we're all gone."View all