Azarenka dumps former champ Mauresmo
Former champion Amelie Mauresmo crashed out of the Australian Open when rising teen star Victoria Azarenka of Bulgaria beat her 6-4, 6-2 in the third round.
Azarenka's win over the 2006 Australian champion and 20th seed sets up a fourth round clash with tournament favourite Serena Williams.
Meanwhile, Chinese 22nd seed Zheng Jie cruised into the Australian Open fourth round with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Ukrainian Kateryna Bondarenko.
She will next play either Russian eighth seed Svetlana Kuznetsova or Bondarenko's sister Alona.
Former world number one Mauresmo showed glimpses of the form that earned her two Grand Slams but could not withstand the challenge from a player 10 years her junior.
The Bulgarian Azarenka's victory extends a winning streak that earned her a maiden tour title in Brisbane this year and is likely to see her break into the top 10 after the tournament, regardless of the result against Williams.
The match against Mauresmo did not reflect the one-sided scoreline, with Azarenka saying the 29-year-old pushed her all the way.
"It's been a tough match, we've had a lot of breaks and deuces and advantages, I'm just happy I manged to stay in there and win the important points and games," she said.
Second seed Williams, a three-time champion in Australia, eliminated the big-hitting teenager from last year's Open but Azareka said she was full of confidence after claiming her first title on tour.
"We'll see how it goes, I'm sure it'll be a great match," she said.
Both Azarenka and Mauresmo attacked from the outset and exchanged breaks in the opening games.
In a tight first set, the Bulgarian harried Mauresmo relentlessly, breaking the Frenchwoman again in the seventh game as she mixed up her shots to send down looping returns and unorthodox lobs from the baseline.
Mauresmo broke back once but could not do it again when Azarenka regained her advantage in the ninth game, giving her opponent the opportunity to serve out the set.
It appeared the teenager might blow her opportunity after botched forehand returns on two set points but she converted a third when a Mauresmo backhad sailed over the baseline.
Azarenka then rolled over Mauresmo in the second set, breaking the Frenchwomen three times to run away with the match after 86 minutes.