Garbine Muguruza's renaissance continued after the two-time grand slam champion overcame Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 7-5 6-3 to reach the Australian Open semi-final.
Unseeded for the first time at a slam since 2014, Muguruza has looked a rejuvenated force in Melbourne following her reunion with former coach Conchita Martinez – the pair split in 2018 following the Spanish star's 2017 Wimbledon triumph.
And former world number one Muguruza moved through to her first major semi-final since the 2018 French Open thanks to Wednesday's hard-fought win against 30th seed Pavlyuchenkova.
Muguruza will now face 2018 runner-up Simona Halep for a place in the women's decider.
Holds of serve were at a premium from the outset in Melbourne as Muguruza – back in the Australian Open quarter-finals for the first time since 2017 – and Pavlyuchenkova traded breaks in sunny conditions.
Pavlyuchenkova – on a giant-slaying mission after stunning 2016 champion Angelique Kerber and second seed Karolina Pliskova en route to the quarters – claimed the first break in the third game. A double-fault handing the Russian an early 2-1 lead, which set the tone for an absorbing and topsy-turvy contest.
Double-faults were a theme after Pavlyuchenkova handed Muguruza the opportunity to break back immediately following a tense battle at the net, before the latter fended off a break point chance to hold for a 3-2 advantage.
Proving difficult on serve, breaks continued to come and go until Muguruza bucked the trend by holding serve with a powerful winner down the line in the 11th game and a double-fault gifted the Spaniard the chance to close out the 56-minute set on her opponent's racquet and she duly converted.
The second set followed a similar pattern, with three breaks of serve after five in a tense opener.
But most importantly, Muguruza claimed two of those – the decisive break coming to love in the sixth game – as the 26-year-old progressed to her maiden semi in Melbourne.
Muguruza bt Pavlyuchenkova  7-5 6-3
Muguruza – 21/21
Pavlyuchenkova – 18/26
Muguruza – 6/4
Pavlyuchenkova – 4/8
BREAK POINTS WON
Muguruza – 5/7
Pavlyuchenkova – 3/6
FIRST SERVE PERCENTAGE
Muguruza – 56
Pavlyuchenkova – 67
PERCENTAGE OF POINTS WON ON FIRST/SECOND SERVE
Muguruza – 75/39
Pavlyuchenkova – 64/14
Muguruza – 71
Pavlyuchenkova – 56
For in-depth, objective and more importantly balanced journalism, Click here to subscribe to Outlook Magazine