Victoria Azarenka advanced to the Australian Open quarterfinals with a 6-1, 6-1 win over Elena Vesnina on Monday, growing more confident she can repeat the winning roll that resulted in her first Grand Slam title here last year.
"It's getting there ... with every match you start building up for the top battles starting now," said Azarenka, who only needed 57 minutes to beat the 47th-ranked Vesnina. "It's really exciting to be again so far in the tournament."
Azarenka started last season with a 26-match winning streak, including a lopsided victory over Maria Sharapova in the Australian Open final.
She moved to No. 1 in the rankings with that win and has remained there for all but a few weeks since.
But she needs to defend her Australian title to hold the top spot from French Open champion Sharapova or Serena Williams, who won Wimbledon, the London Olympics and U.S. Open titles.
Next up for Azarenka is a quarterfinal against Svetlana Kuznetsova, who entered the season's first major ranked No. 75 but has won titles at the 2004 U.S. Open and 2009 French Open.