World No 5 Aryna Sabalenka rallied from 1-5 down in the first set to battle into the Adelaide International quarterfinals on Wednesday.
The Belarusian second seed saved seven set points before getting past dogged Russian Liudmila Samsonova 7-6 (8), 7-6 (3).
She will meet Marketa Vondrousova for a place in the last four after the Czech player’s dominant 6-0, 6-4 dismissal of dangerous Estonian Kaia Kanepi.
“When you’re 1-5 down there’s nothing to lose and you just go for your shots without thinking,” Sabalenka said of clawing back against a player who collected trophies in Tokyo, Cleveland and Washington last year to crack the top 20.
“That really helped me to stay in the set, keep fighting and trying. She’s an incredible player with a huge serve, so was tough.”
Sabalenka had a first-round bye but notched a pair of doubles wins alongside Lidziya Marozava to kickstart her Adelaide campaign.
She lost to the 20th-ranked Samsonova in three sets in Guadalajara last October before rounding out a stellar season, which included a run to the US Open semifinals.
Vondrousova was keen to move on from a disjointed 2022 in which she missed six months due to a wrist injury, making her first quarterfinal since reaching the last four in Dubai almost a year ago.
“I’m just so happy to be back playing. It was a very tough time when I didn’t play, so yeah, I’m just very happy to be playing at this level,” she said.
“You know I was feeling great since the match started. I knew it was going to be tough because she was getting better and better.”
In the men’s draw, Russian eighth seed Karen Khachanov made the last eight with a comfortable 6-4, 6-2 win over Britain’s Jack Draper.
He will play former world No 1 and second seed Daniil Medvedev next.
Medvedev, runner-up at the last two Australian Opens, blew away the new year cobwebs with a 6-0, 6-3 romp over Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic.
It came a day after the 2021 US Open champion had to save nine set points against first-round opponent Lorenzo Sonego before the Italian retired hurt.
“I think it was a great match. Miomir is a tough opponent, a high-ranked player so there are no easy guys left in Adelaide,” third seed Medvedev said of the 29th-ranked Serb.
“I’m not sure there were any (easy opponents) from the first round, so really happy to be through, happy with my level.”
The world No 7 dropped just 12 points in a whirlwind 28-minute opening set before closing out the match comfortably.
Rising Japanese star Yoshihito Nishioka also went through. Having dispatched fifth seed Holger Rune in the first round, he backed up to beat American Mackenzie McDonald 6-4, 6-3.