Australian Open 2021: Serena Williams downs Simona Halep to reach semi-finals

Naomi Osaka awaits the 23-time Grand Slam champion in the final four

Eleanor Crooks
Tuesday 16 February 2021 10:16
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Serena Williams progressed to the final four in Melbourne
Serena Williams progressed to the final four in Melbourne

Serena Williams exacted revenge for her Wimbledon final defeat by Simona Halep to reach the semi-finals of the Australian Open, where Naomi Osaka awaits.

Halep eased to a 6-2 6-2 victory over Williams at the grass-court Grand Slam in 2019 – one of four major finals the American has lost since claiming her 23rd Slam singles title in Melbourne four years ago.

Williams started quickly on Tuesday and never looked back, powering her way to a 6-3 6-3 win.

In her on-court interview, she said: “I definitely think this is the best match this tournament and obviously I had to going up against the No 2 in the world. I knew that I had to do better and that’s what I did so I’m excited.”

READ MORE: Osaka storms into Aussie Open semi-finals

The quality of the second set did not match the first, with Williams making a host of unforced errors, but Halep could not take advantage.

Osaka will surely not be so generous in what will be a first Slam meeting between the pair since their notorious US Open final in 2018, when Williams received a game penalty for verbally abusing umpire Carlos Ramos and Osaka’s first major title was accompanied by deafening boos and whistles.

Since then the Japanese player has won two more major titles and is unbeaten on the biggest stage since last year’s Australian Open. She stormed past Hsieh Su-wei in the quarter-finals on Tuesday.

Williams shot out of the blocks here, moving into a 2-0 lead with a combination of extreme power and incredible angles. Halep fought back to level but Williams forged ahead again and confidently served out the set.

The 39-year-old, who is once again two matches away from finally equalling Margaret Court’s record of 24 slam singles titles, made a shaky start to the second set, spraying unforced errors as Halep moved into a 3-1 lead.

But the Romanian was unable to find the level to put doubts into Williams’ mind and the 10th seed finished the match with a run of five games in a row.

PA

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