Dominika Cibulkova downed Victoria Azarenka to reach the Australian Open quarter-finals for a second straight year.
Dominika Cibulkova ousted Victoria Azarenka from the Australian Open, winning an entertaining contest on Rod Laver Arena on Monday.
The 11th seed and 2014 runner-up came out all-guns-blazing early, and defied a comeback from Azarenka to prevail 6-2 3-6 6-3 in two hours and 10 minutes under the centre-court roof at Melbourne Park.
In a sign of how aggressive this contest was, 76 of the 175 points ended with winners from either player - and only 58 unforced errors between them.
Cibulkova had won the first set the past four times she had played Azarenka - and not in close ones either, with 6-2, 6-3, 6-1 and 6-2 scorelines, however, she had turned it into victory only once in that stretch.
The Slovakian infamously coughed up a 6-1 4-0 lead in Miami in 2012 in the most stark of those Azarenka comeback victories.
Their most recent meeting went the way of Cibulkova in straight sets at the 2012 French Open but her victory on Monday was her first over Azarenka in seven hard-court clashes.
Azarenka immediately set out on trying to change her trend of slow starts against Cibulkova, breaking and consolidating for a 2-0 lead.
But Cibulkova - all too predictably - stormed to the first set with the next six games, registering 21 winners in the process as she flaunted her all-or-nothing approach.
The pair split the short rallies early but Cibulkova was surprisingly winning the longer ones, as she lost just three of 17 points when there were five or more shots played.
Azarenka found her feet to leap to a 4-1 double-break lead in the second set, in which time Cibulkova could only garner six points.
Cibulkova would get one of the breaks back, but Azarenka - who hit 16 second-set winners - had enough control to send the match to a decider.
The two-time Australian Open champion broke yet again to open up a 2-0 lead in a set for the third time in the match but Cibulkova's rearguard kicked in as she levelled at 2-2 - and had break chances in the fifth game.
While she would not convert, Azarenka simply had no answer for Cibulkova's energy in her next two service games.
The 2014 finalist won the mental contest, breaking in the seventh and ninth games, as her first appearance on Rod Laver Arena since her loss to Li Na in last year's title decider ended in victory.