Sydney, Australia: Germany's Angelique Kerber won a seventh straight match as she steamed into the semifinals of the Sydney International on Thursday boosting her confidence for next week's Australian Open.
Kerber, who began last year as No.1 before finishing at No.22, continued her 2018 resurgence with a thumping 6-3, 6-1 win over Slovakia's Dominika Cibulkova.
The German will meet Italian qualifier and world No.100 Camila Giorgi, who upset Poland's former world No.2 Agnieszka Radwanska 6-1, 6-2.
It is an impressive start to the new year for Kerber, having won her four matches at last week's mixed teams Hopman Cup in Perth before her three victories in Sydney.
"This start is not bad for 2018, for sure. Still, I'm just trying to focus on every match, trying to learn from every single match," Kerber said.
"Being now in the semis again here, it's really a good feeling, especially that I had the goal, to have a lot of matches before going to Melbourne."
Kerber, who knocked out Venus Williams in her opening match in Sydney, said she was not yet back to her best form of 2016 when she won the Australian and US Opens.
"It's just the beginning of the year, so it's tough to say. But I'm feeling good – I'm healthy. I was working hard in the last few weeks," Kerber said.
"So now, I just am trying to playing like I played years before and enjoying it again."
The other semi-final will be an all-Australian affair between Ashleigh Barty and Daria Gavrilova.
Barty, ranked nineteenth, cruised past Barbora Strycova 6-3, 6-2, while 25th-ranked Gavrilova had direct passage to the last four when Spain's Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza withdrew after her win over Kiki Bertens with a thigh injury.
"For us, it's perfect. We can go out and have a really good match, go hard at each other, and still shake hands, have a hug at the end of the match, and wish each other the best," Barty said.
Defending champion Gilles Muller was knocked out of the Sydney International men's event by unseeded Frenchman Benoit Paire 6-4, 6-4.
The 42nd-ranked Paire will meet rising young Australian star Alex de Minaur, who downed Spain's Feliciano Lopez in the night match, 6-4, 6-4.
Paire sent down 17 aces against the world No.25 to advance to his second semi-final in a week, after reaching the last four in India.
Italian fourth seed Fabio Fognini set up a semi-final against qualifier Daniil Medvedev following a 7-6 (7-4), 6-7 (7-4), 6-2 marathon against Frenchman Adrian Mannarino.
Medvedev is eyeing off his first career title after toppling veteran Italian Paulo Lorenzi 6-3, 6-3.