Serena contest on cards for Sam

TENNIS

Forget her Hopman Cup flop and her hacking in Hobart, Samantha Stosur says she is peaking nicely as she eyes a spot in the second week of the Australian Open.

After burying her Hobart conqueror Klara Zakopalova in the first match and dispatching the Sydney International champion Tsvetana Pironkova in her second, Stosur faces Auckland Classic winner Ana Ivanovic tonight for a shot at Serena Williams in the last 16.

Just as the mercury rises daily in Melbourne, so does the quality of Stosur's opponents.

Just as vanquished Bulgarian Pironkova had been until Tuesday night, Ivanovic is unbeaten in 2014.

But Australia's big title hope insists her grand summer plan is going to script so far and her form is building beautifully ahead of her showdown with the former world No 1.

"That's the way you want it to be. As much as you want to be playing your best tennis at the Hopman Cup or Hobart, you want to peak, as they say, at the right moment," Stosur said.

"I don't know if I peaked, but my tennis is getting better, it's moving in the right direction.

"I think that preparation in all those matches that I was able to play in those two previous events have really helped me play this well up until now.

"It's nice that it's worked out that way, but obviously I still feel like I can keep going and want to keep improving with the way that I am playing."

Stosur enjoys a 4-3 head-to-head edge over Ivanovic, but the Serb won their most recent meeting last October in three sets on an indoor hard court in Sofia.

"It's going to be a tough match. Ana has been playing well last year," Stosur said.

"The last two tournaments last year we played, she won one, I won one. A couple of three-setters in there."

Ivanovic, the Open runner-up in 2008 and seeded 14th this year, knows she's in for a rough night too.

"The draws haven't been that great for me," she said.

"I had two tough matches last year against Sam. I lost one, won one. She's a tough player, has a very strong game. I have to raise my level in order to beat her."

But the former French Open champion says she couldn't be happier with her form ahead of the marquee third-round match-up.

Her breakthrough in New Zealand last week ended a two-year title drought.

"I really feel I broke out of that little negative spell," Ivanovic said.

"I really felt comfortable in Auckland, played some really good tennis.

"It was very good way to start the year for me. It was something that I really wanted for a long time, to win a title again. It's been a while.

"It does give me confidence for this week."

The victor will almost certainly run into Williams on Sunday, with the world No 1 an overwhelming favourite to see off 31st seed Daniela Hantuchova in her third-round match today. - AAP

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