Serena topples top seed

MELBOURNE — Serena Williams remained on course for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title after outlasting world No. 1 Simona Halep in a fabulous contest to reach the Australian Open tennis quarter-finals yesterday.

Williams has looked in ominous form so far at Melbourne Park as she seeks one more Grand Slam title to put her alongside Margaret Court’s record 24 titles.

And the 37-year-old extended her winning record over the Romanian to 9-1 with a bruising 6-1, 4-6, 6-4 victory on Rod Laver Arena yesterday.

Speaking on court, Williams said: “It was a really intense match, some incredible points. I love playing tennis, I love this court and it’s really cool to be back out here playing.

“I really needed to elevate my game and there’s a reason why. She’s a great player. I had to just play a little bit like I knew I could and I did, and I think hopefully that was the difference.

“I’m such a fighter, I never give up. There’s definitely something that’s innate.”

Halep opened with a break of serve, but that was as good as things got for the top seed in the first set as Williams came storming back by winning the next six games in a row to take it in just 20 minutes.

French Open champion Halep struggled in her opening two matches, where she was extended to three sets in both, before finally hitting form to beat Serena’s sister Venus in round three.

She showed the same battling spirit once again by hitting back from an early break of serve down before sending the contest into a decider as Williams’ forehand return uncharacteristically sailed long at set point.

Williams, a seven-time winner in Melbourne, was now embroiled in a titanic slug-fest with Halep relishing the occasion under the lights.

Halep failed to take advantage of three break points in the sixth game and she was made to pay for her profligacy as Williams broke in the next game before successfully serving out the contest. Williams will now take on Karolina Pliskova who has been under the radar so far this tournament but she made a statement with a 6-3, 6-1 victory over Garbine Muguruza. 

Source : The Herald

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