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Tennis: Svitolina, Pliskova storm into quarters

BRISBANE (AUSTRALIA) (AFP) - 

Ukraine's Elina Svitolina continued her impressive start to the season when she demolished Croatian Ana Konjuh 6-3, 6-1 in the second round of the Brisbane International on Wednesday.

Svitolina took just 64 minutes to see off Konjuh at the Pat Rafter Arena and book an enticing quarter-final showdown with Britain's Johanna Konta.

She was joined in the final eight by defending champion and second seed Karolina Pliskova, who took 10 minutes less to demolish American Catherine Bellis 6-1, 6-1.

Svitolina, 23, started the week as world number six but would finish it as number four if she wins the tournament.

She won five tournaments in 2017 and goes into the Australian Open as a serious contender for the year's first Grand Slam.

She had a tough opening round win over Spain's Carla Suarez Navarro but was relatively untroubled against world number 44 Konjuh.

"I'm playing well and I'm happy that I'm showing good tennis from the start of the year," Svitolina said.

"I try to always find my good tennis out there and, you know, play well. That's the most important thing."

Estonia's Kaia Kanepi, the 2012 champion, moved into the last eight with a 6-4, 6-3 win over Ukraine's Lesia Tsurenko.

Once ranked as high as 15th in the world, Kanepi is on the comeback trail after injury forced her out of the game in June 2016 for just over a year.

She reached last year's US Open as a qualifier and had to qualify in Brisbane as well.

But her powerful serve proved too much for Tsurenko and she will now face Pliskova in the quarter-finals.

Belarusian qualifier Aliaksandra Sasnovich booked a quarter-final against Frenchwoman Alize Cornet when she beat Estonia's Anett Kontaveit 1-6, 7-6 (7/2), 6-3.

© 2018 AFP