Serena muscles past top seed Halep, Osaka to meet Svitolina in quarters

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 22 Jan 2019 12:53:21



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.
It was Williams' first match against a world number one since returning after having a baby in September 2017 and the American showed why many already regard her as the greatest of all time.

She unleashed an early onslaught and Halep was in danger crumbling before the French Open champion regrouped for a stirring comeback. "It was an intense match and there were some incredible points," Williams said. "She's the number one player in the world and there's a reason why... (but) I'm such a fighter, I just never give up."

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.
Osaka outlasts Anastasija: Japanese US Open champion Naomi Osaka ground her way into an Australian Open quarter-final with sixth seed Elina Svitolina Monday ahead of Serena Williams facing her biggest tennis test since giving birth.

As the second week of the opening Grand Slam of the year got underway, fourth seed Osaka was still standing after emerging from an error-strewn first set against crafty Latvian Anastasija Sevastova to win 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.
The victory left the bubbly 21-year-old with a last-eight clash against ambitious Ukrainian Svitolina, who battled past American Madison Keys 6-2, 1-6, 6-1.
It will be a new experience for whoever wins that showdown, with neither of them going beyond the quarter-finals at Melbourne Park before.

Svitolina overcomes Keys: Svitolina needed to dig deep to overcome 17th seeded Keys, a US Open finalist in 2017 in the prequarters. The turning point was a marathon 16-minute game early in the deciding set that went to deuce 11 times as Keys chased a decisive break. But the American's resolve crumbled when Svitolina held off five break points then gained an advantage in the next game.
"I had to put my level up, I'm glad I handled the pressure," said Svitolina, who scored her biggest career win at the WTA Finals in Singapore last October.

Pliskova beats Muguruza: Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic played her best tennis to beat Spain's Garbine Muguruza 6-3, 6-1 in an hour and move into the last eight of the Australian Open here on Monday.
Muguruza, seeded 18th, could only stay afloat early in the first set when she broke her 7th-seed opponent for the only time, reports Efe news.

However, the Czech player slammed 23 winners and five aces with only three unforced errors to seal her eighth win against the former world No. 1.

Pliskova will now play the winner of Monday's match between Romania's No. 1- seed Simona Halep and 16th-seed Serena Williams of the United States in the next round.