Sabalenka powers into Open quarter-finals

Aryna Sabalenka's Australian Open stock continues to rise after the Belarusian showcased her awesome power by blasting 32 winners to charge into the Melbourne Park quarter-finals for the first time.

The world No.5 continued her perfect start to the year with a 7-5 6-2 win over 12th seed Belinda Bencic at Rod Laver Arena on Monday.

Bencic raced to a 4-2 lead but won just one of the next six games, dropping the opening set with a double-fault.

Sabalenka's superior serve was telling as she ran away with an eighth consecutive straight-sets victory of the year in one hour and 27 minutes.

"I'm super happy with the win today," Sabalenka said.

"(Bencic) is an unbelievable player, she played so good, and I'm super happy with the level today."

Sabalenka has spoken about trying to be more "boring" on the court - keeping her emotions in check - and did not drop her head when down a break early.

"It takes me a little while to understand that negative emotion is not going to help you on court," the fifth seed said.

"You just have to stay strong and believe, no matter what, and do everything you can to get back in the score and to win the match.

"I'm super happy with my mindset during the game today."

Sabalenka has made three grand slam semi-final appearances in the past two years but has never previously made the last eight in Melbourne.

The 24-year-old will meet Donna Vekic - another first-time Open quarter-finalist - for a place in the semis, after the unseeded Croatian secured a 6-2 1-6 6-3 win over Czech teenager Linda Fruhvirtova.

Vekic made up for 40 unforced errors with 42 winners, though only seven of those came in the second set as Fruhvirtova forced a decider.

"I didn't really feel like I had much control in that second set," Vekic said.

"I knew I just had to keep fighting and hoping, and believing that I will win.

"I'm really sad that it's not Belinda (Bencic in the next round).

"We were talking a lot and said, 'Let's hope we both win and then have a great match in the quarters'. But I'm sure she'll give me some tips."

Former world No.1 Karolina Pliskova has also reached the quarter-finals after beating China's Zhang Shuai 6-0 6-4.

The Czech 30th seed blew through a near-flawless first set in just 21 minutes, pummelling 15 winners and half-a-dozen aces in the process.

Pliskova will meet Magda Linette in the last eight after the Polish world No.45 upset fourth seed Caroline Garcia 7-6 (7-3) 6-4.

Linette is the only player left in the draw who has never previously reached the quarter-finals at a grand slam.

"I don't want to say I didn't expect it because coming on the court I was confident in how well I'm playing," the 30-year-old said.

"But (Garcia) is such an amazing opponent and such a tough one, especially on the big stage.

"I knew it's going to be super tough and I'm just glad I stayed composed throughout the whole first set and managed to come back again."

Garcia's exit leaves Sabalenka as the highest seed in the bottom half, presenting the unfulfilled talent with a golden opportunity to at last snare an elusive first grand slam final spot.