Serena tops No. 1 Halep
to reach Aussie Open quarters
Arthur Kapetanakis | January 21, 2019
Serena Williams dug deep to complete perhaps her best win in the past 12 months, topping world No. 1 Simona Halep to reach the Australian Open quarterfinals. The 6-1, 4-6, 6-4 victory was filled with twists and turns, with Williams’ early dominance ceding to a back-and-forth battle for the majority of the one-hour, 47-minute contest.
Prior to the match, Halep stated that although she had earned the WTA’s No. 1 ranking, it is Williams who is the best player in the world. Her words proved prophetic.
The 23-time Grand Slam champion won six games in a row to take the opening set in just 20 minutes, and had a game point on serve to make it 3-1 in set two after an early break. But Halep showed her famous fight to level at 2-all, before blunting Serena’s power game to take the set. The Romanian stood strong in the face of bludgeoning ground strokes from her opponent; at one point in set two, Williams returned an 84-mph Halep serve with a 92-mph return winner.ADVERTISEMENT
After both women battled through deuce to hold to open set three, three straight holds at love put Halep ahead, 3-2. With the match on a knife edge, a pivotal 16-point sixth game ensued, with Williams saving three break points to knot the decider at 3-all.
She immediately used that momentum to break for 4-3, and then held twice to 15 to close out the match, ending with 9 aces and 44 winners.
“I’m such a fighter, I just never give up,” Williams said after the match. “It’s definitely something that’s innate. I just work so hard for every point. And I just feel like it’s a miracle that I’m here, I get to do something that I enjoy.”
Showing the champion's mindset that has defined her historic career, Williams focus quickly shifted to the rest of the tournament after the match.
“I can definitely go to a new level. I have to if I want to stay in the tournament.”
Next up for the No. 16 seed is a quarterfinal matchup against No. 7 Karolina Pliskova, with a semifinal against either No. 4 Naomi Osaka or No.6 Elina Svitolina waiting beyond that.
Svitloina booked her semifinal place with a 6-2, 1-6, 6-1 victory over No. 17 Madison Keys, who could not match her quarterfinal run in Australia in 2018.
In men’s doubles play, Jack Sock and Jackson Winthrow – Sock’s new partner, now that Mike Bryan has rejoined brother Bob – fell to Ryan Harrison and Sam Querrey, 3-6, 6-3, 7-5, in an all-U.S. third-round affair.
Americans Jennifer Brady and Alison Riske advanced to the women’s doubles quarterfinals with a 6-3, 6-4 win over the No. 4-seeded team of Nicole Melichar of the U.S. and Kveta Peschke of the Czech Republic.
Day 9 in Melbourne will see two American upstarts take to Rod Laver Arena with semifinal spots on the line, as Danielle Collins faces Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova to close the day session, and Frances Tiafoe battles No. 2 Rafael Nadal to close the night slate.