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Serena's coach tips Konta as future Grand Slam winner

By Paul Newman

Patrick Mouratoglou, the hugely successful coach of Serena Williams, expects the 22-times Grand Slam champion to beat Johanna Konta here tomorrow morning in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open but predicts the brightest of futures for her British opponent.

"Can Johanna win Grand Slams in future? Of course she can," Mouratoglou said. "I've seen her a lot lately and I've been very impressed."

Konta and Williams set up the first meeting of their careers with contrasting fourth-round victories. Konta, who had needed more than three hours to overcome Ekaterina Makarova at the same stage last year, this time took just 75 minutes to crush the 29-year-old Russian 6-1, 6-4.

Williams, like Konta, has not dropped a set in her first four matches but laboured to a 7-5, 6-4 victory over the Czech Republic's Barbora Strycova in an hour and 46 minutes.

The world No 2, who needs to win the title here to reclaim top spot from Angelique Kerber, dropped her serve four times and made 46 unforced errors.

Before the tournament Mouratoglou had singled out Konta and Karolina Pliskova as the two greatest threats to Williams.

Pliskova, the world No 5 and last year's US Open runner-up, ended Australia's interest in the singles events here when she beat Daria Gavrilova to set up a quarter-final meeting with Croatia's Mirjana Lucic-Baroni.

The quarter-finals in the other half of the draw see Garbine Muguruza, the French Open champion, take on Coco Vandeweghe while Venus Williams meets Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

"I've seen a lot of Johanna," Mouratoglou said.

"It's helped that she has been on TV so much. When you win a tournament, like she did in Sydney, people see you a lot.

"I'm impressed by her tennis and I'm particularly impressed by the way she plays without any doubt in her mind. She commits 100 per cent to every shot, there's no doubt about it."

Mouratoglou has been struck by the rapid progress 25-year-old Konta has made in the last two years. The current world No 9 used to handle high-pressure situations badly and often lost tight matches, but today she is a picture of mental strength.

"The difference between how she was two or three years ago and now is like day and night," Mouratoglou said, adding that he was not surprised she had made her breakthrough later than most.

"Every player has their own way," he said.

Mouratoglou thinks that Andy Murray's success has helped Konta in her own career.

"It's always the same," he said. "If a country has one successful player then others follow. Look at how well Dan Evans is doing now."

And his prediction for the match? "If I didn't think Serena was going to win I should be heading back home," Mouratoglou smiled.

"If Serena is playing her best I don't think anyone can beat her. But she has to play her best. If she plays like she played today she won't win. She will need to raise her level."

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