Published: Tue, January 22, 2019
Sport | By Ruben Hill

Serena Williams' awkward entry at the Australian Open

Serena Williams' awkward entry at the Australian Open

Serena Williams has gone through to the quarter-finals of the Australian Open after a thrilling match-up with world number 1, Simona Halep, finishing 6-1, 4-6, 6-4.

Williams had given up only nine games in her three previous games - a first-week strike rate she hasn't matched in a major since the 2013 US Open - but she had to step up in class from the likes of Dayana Yastramenska and Eugenie Bouchard.

Williams, searching for her first Grand Slam title since coming back from pregnancy past year, has now won nine of her 10 meetings with Halep.

Czech Pliskova is another form player, winning the warm-up Brisbane International and easing past two-time Grand Slam victor Garbine Muguruza 6-3, 6-1 to set up the Williams clash. Today I just worked so hard for every point.

At her first opportunity in the next game, she broke the 17th-seeded Keys, the runner-up at the 2017 US Open and a semifinalist or better at three of the past five majors.

It was Williams' first meeting with a world No. 1 since a defeat to Victoria Azarenka in Doha six years ago and she had to be on top of her game to keep pace with the plucky French Open champion in a hard-fought 6-1 4-6 6-4 victory.

Before the match, Halep said if she wanted to beat Williams at her best, she needed to move her around the court and dictate the pace of the game.

Since returning to the tour, Williams has reached the past two Grand Slam finals, losing both. I'm not saying she will, but she is ready. "I feel like these conditions can be good for me".

"I felt confident even coming to this match because I beat her so many times".

Others joked that the 66-year-old and former tennis coach of the Williams sisters had witnessed her daughter win so many times, the only thing that would get her on her feet was silverware.

"I'm such a fighter, I never give up", declared Williams after the epic encounter. "So I didn't answer the question exactly but that's my feeling".

But the Romanian got a foothold just in time, breaking Williams for 2-2 and from there the match changed, with Halep managing to compete with her opponent's power. "I am also curious who is going to win". With her supreme endurance and retrieving skills, she started to make a match out of it, staying in the point, returning with interest and forcing Serena to make errors.

It provided an awkward moment ahead of the compelling round of 16 match on Rod Laver Arena. I was really happy for her, because everyone was writing her off.

The fourth-seeded Osaka grew in confidence from the narrow escape and lifted her tempo and shot-making consistency, grabbing the crucial service break in the sixth game. Two points later, the match was heading into the deciding set.

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