23-time major champion Serena Williams is just two matches away from equalling Margaret Courts 24 grand slam record.
She’ll now advance to her 40th grand slam semifinal after she defeated world No.2 Simona Halep, 6-3 6-3, in what was one of the most thrilling matches we’ve seen this week.
“I definitely think this was the best matches I’ve played so far this tournament and obviously I had to going up against no.2 in the world I knew that I had to do better and you know that’s what I did,” Williams said in a post-match interview.Embed from Getty Images
After mounting two huge comebacks against Ajla Tomljanovic and Iga Swiatek this week, Simona Halep couldn’t stage another rally against Serena Williams.
The American set the tone of the match early on with her outrageous intensity and went 2-0 at the start of the opening set.
And despite this being some of the best tennis we’ve seen from Williams during the tournament, she wasn’t perhaps as clinical as she would have liked, conceding several unforced errors to allow Halep to break back immediately and draw level at 2-2.
But Williams kept her foot on the gas, and found an opening on Halep’s serve, stretching the reigning Wimbledon champion on her baseline, using her excellent shot placement to force Halep to concede an error of her own.Embed from Getty Images
Interestingly, Serena Williams has only ever lost two matches at the Australian Open after winning the first set (against Sloan Stephens in 2013 and Ana Ivanovic 2014), and she eased into control to serve out the remainder of the first set to take the lead.
But that record looked to be in some jeopardy during the opening stages of the second set as the world No.2 found her rhythm, smashing some big winners past Williams to break the 2017 Australian Open champion to go 0-2 up.
“I just realised I was making a lot of unforced errors on those games that I lost, and I knew that I had an opportunity to play better,” said Williams.
“I was like ‘just stay in there and keep going’ and that’s what I did.”
Halep was quick to counter on her opponent’s mistakes, with Williams hitting 33 unforced errors during the match. But she couldn’t hold on to her own service, allowing Williams to break back immediately and convert a breakpoint of her own.Embed from Getty Images
The pair traded another two breaks, with Williams again countering on Halep’s weak second serve and advancing to hold her own serve to draw level, 3-3.
What followed was a mammoth 11 point game, that saw Simona Halep save six breakpoints and fend off William’s advances over three 20 shot rallies. But she eventually succumbed, striking a shot into the net to give her opponent an important break.
With an opportunity to close out the match, Serena Williams made no mistakes holding her serve and converted a final breakpoint to secure her spot in the semifinals.
Williams will advance to play 2019 Australian Open champion, Naomi Osaka, who defeated Hseih Su-Wei 6-2 6-2 earlier today.
“She [Naomi Osaka] is such a strong player on the court, and she’s such an inspirational person off the court which is really cool, and it’s so good to see someone that is so inspiring both when they’re doing their job and when they’re not doing their job.”
“I feel like this is a good opportunity for me to keep doing my best, you know this is the first grand slam of the year for me, and I had an incredibly long arduous offseason, so I’m really happy with honestly every win I get.”
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