Serena muscles past into Open quarters

Afp, Melbourne

22 January, 2019 12:00 AM printer

Serena muscles past into Open quarters

Serena Williams

Serena Williams subdued a stubborn fightback from world number one Simona Halep to take her quest for a record-equalling 24th major into the Australian Open quarter-finals Monday.

The 37-year-old American beat the Romanian top seed 6-1, 4-6, 6-4 in an epic three-setter to line up a last eight clash with Czech eighth seed Karolina Pliskova.

Williams unleashed an early onslaught and Halep was in danger crumbling before the French Open champion regrouped for a stirring comeback.

Williams won her 23rd Grand Slam Down Under two years ago while two months pregnant and is the bookies’ favourite to claim an eighth Australian title, despite being seeded 16th.

Another major would match Margaret Court’s tally and an intensely-focused Williams had not dropped a set in three matches before meeting Halep.

Williams’ started slowly when she allowed Halep to bring up three break points in the opening game, conceding with a double fault.

But the American broke back in the next, racing to the net for an overhead smash when one of her powerfully hit returns flew high off Halep’s racquet.

She then ran away with the first set 6-1 in 20 minutes, blasting 10 winners to three against the world’s top-ranked player.

Halep did better early in the second set, and when the American did break her in the third game she immediately broke back.

 


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