Molik sets up clash with Venus
Australia's Alicia Molik has warned Venus Williams to "bring it on" after setting up a blockbuster fourth round Australian Open clash with the American former world number one.
Tenth seed Molik cruised through her third round match on Saturday, beating Russia's Tatiana Panova 6-3, 6-2 to set up the clash with Williams, who won her third round match over Anna Smashnova of Israel 6-3, 6-0.
Molik sent down 11 aces, including a 196kph bullet on match point, to reach the fourth round at Melbourne Park for the second consecutive year.
Quizzed on court about her thoughts on the match against Williams, Molik was short and to the point: "Bring it on."
But at her post-match press conference she was willing to go into more detail.
"It will be a big challenge, we had a good match in Dubai early on in 2004," she said. "It's going to be a great match ... Venus is a great player with plenty of big shots, so no doubt the match will be played at a very, very high level.
"I was pretty disappointed losing to her in Dubai. I felt like I had many many opportunities that presented themselves that I didn't take advantage of, but I feel like I've been in those types of situations many times over the last six months, 12 months, so [I am] handling those a lot better.
"But I feel like I'm in the right position to give it a good go. Venus has got a good serve and I think I've got a very good serve too, so it will be very much a serving game. To some extent we might cancel each other out, but I think it's going to be very much a holding game."
Williams said she believed her greater experience of big-match occasions could give her the edge against Molik.
"We were destined to meet, I guess," she said. "This will be a huge match for her in Australia, but I've played a lot of huge matches in my life.
"But in the end, I need to get out there and play well. In the end I am just more or less looking at the ball, and then after the match, that's when I relax.
"For me it's all about consistency and errors. Even if I make a lot of errors, usually I'm winning the match.
"But the less errors I make, the tougher it is for my opponent. So for me, no errors.
"At that rate, it will be a very competitive match."
Molik had looked tentative in the first set against Panova, as she started with a nervous opening service game.
The Australian looked unsettled for much of the set and was far from convincing in breaking Panova's serve in the sixth game, which she finally did with her fourth break point.
Panova had the chance to break back when Molik was serving for the set, but the Australian held her composure to close it out.
Both players held their opening two service games in the second set before Molik secured the double break to lead 5-2.
She served out the set to love, taking match point with the 196kph ace.
"That's probably one of my fastest ones," she said. "I played pretty well and it was nice to get through in straight sets," she said.
Molik, who lost to France's Amelie Mauresmo in the fourth round of the 2004 Open, is the last remaining Australian in the women's draw.