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2015 Tennis Grand Slam Australian Open: Tomas Berdych, Ekaterina Makarova facing moment of truth

Can Tomas Berdych and Ekaterina Makarova graduate from first-week firepowers to grand slam champions?

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Taking the next step.

Four simple words probably on the minds of Tomas Berdych and Ekaterina Makarova tonight.

The pair have won through to the Australian Open quarter-finals in their respective draws.

And they share an all-too-similar fate - while they are masters of the first week, the second is their downfall.

Some would call them flat-track bullies - Berdych especially.

For all the talent the big-hitting Czech has, one appearance in a Wimbledon final is his best showing in the majors.

He has not dropped a set in the first four rounds at Melbourne Park in the past three years.

That said, Berdych has shown incremental improvement - with his three quarter-final losses in 2011, '12 and '13 followed by a semi-final appearance in '14.

Will '15 be any different?

Makarova is certainly hoping so.

She is coming off her first major semi-final at the US Open in September, and is on the verge of her third last-eight clash in Melbourne.

In her past 17 majors - the ongoing one included - she has reached the fourth round nine times. Wins beyond that, though, have been the hard part.

The left-hander has enough game and belief to win on Rod Laver Arena - she trounced Serena Williams there in 2012 - but '15 offers her a gilt-edged chance to progress against third seed Simona Halep.

Berdych's task to progress looms large - third seed Rafael Nadal is in his way - but he has significantly tested the Spaniard before, one noticeable time on centre court in Melbourne.

Nadal has beaten Berdych 17 times in a row, but the seventh seed's best chance to break that run was in January 2012 - when he had a point for a two-sets-to-love lead on the Mallorcan.

As on that fateful night, Berdych could not take the next step, claim that point in the tie-break and win.

But can he and Makarova alike take the opportunity before them, and rise beyond being first-week firepowers?

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