Pliskova back in the Melbourne quarter-finals and feeling good

MELBOURNE, Jan 23 (Reuters) - Karolina Pliskova has flown under the radar at the Australian Open this year and the former world number one moved quietly into the quarter-finals on Kia Arena on Monday after many of the top seeds had scattered to the winds.

Still effectively on the comeback trail after an arm fracture prevented her from playing in Australia last year, the Czech reached the last-eight with a 6-0 6-4 win over China's Zhang Shuai on the least prestigious court still being used.

Reunited this season with former coach Sascha Bajin, who helped her to the Wimbledon final and number three in the world in 2021, Pliskova felt she was getting back in the groove after her best performance of the tournament so far.

"I've been feeling quite good since I came to Australia," she told reporters.

"The timing, sometimes you just feel it. You feel you are hitting clean. That's what was happening for the last two or three weeks.

"But lately I think all the matches which I've played here, I played quite solid, not with big gaps of not having that focus there, or too many mistakes. I think the serve was really working for me well in these matches."

Only two top 10 seeds, Jessica Pegula and Aryna Sabalenka, remain in the quarter-finals, leaving Pliskova as one of the more experienced Grand Slam campaigners.

Also a losing finalist at the U.S. Open in 2016 and a semi-finalist at all four Grand Slams, the 30-year-old is not overly surprised at the number of upsets at the tournament.

"I feel like these days there is not just top 20 tough opponents, there is like 150 tough opponents," the world number 31 added.

"If you're just not there completely that day, you can lose.

"I think Sabalenka is a big favourite of this half (of the draw). She's always going to be tough because she has a big game.

"Then the rest, Pegula, I think she's playing great tennis. I'm happy she's in the other part of the draw."

Pliskova will face Magda Linette in her fourth quarter-final at the Australian Open after the unheralded Pole knocked out fourth seed Caroline Garcia on Monday.

"If I play like I played today, I think it's tough for anybody to compete with that. But it's not going to be easy," she said.

Reporting by Nick Mulvenney; Editing by Jacqueline Wong

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.