Down but not out, Serena Williams into Australian Open quarters


Serena Williams defeated Iryna Sabalenka
Picture Credit score: Reuters

Dubai: Serena Williams tumbled to the bottom, her closely taped proper ankle twisting, her physique contorting, her racket flying.

This was early within the second set of a competitive-as-can-be match-up within the Australian Open’s fourth spherical in opposition to a youthful model of herself – stinging serves, enormous groundstroke cuts, a fierce streak – and through a stretch on Sunday when issues gave the impression to be slipping away.

Williams rapidly put up a hand to point she was OK, received as much as retie the laces of her proper shoe and, whereas it took her a bit to regain management, she did simply within the nick of time. Grabbing the final two video games, Williams pulled out 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 victory over No. 7 seed Aryna Sabalenka to achieve the quarterfinals at Melbourne Park.

Simona Halep additionally superior to arrange a conflict with Serena after beating French Open champion Iga Swiatek 3-6, 6-1, 6-4. The No. 2-seeded Halep avenged a loss final 12 months at Roland Garros, the place Swiatek dropped simply three video games of their fourth-round match.

After accounting for the final remaining teenager within the draw, two-time main winner Halep will now meet one of the crucial skilled gamers on tour. Williams is aiming for a record-tying twenty fourth Grand Slam singles title. Halep misplaced the ultimate at Melbourne Park in 2018 and reached the semi-finals right here final 12 months.

“I’m joyful to get by way of that one. It wasn’t straightforward,” stated Williams, who moved nearer to an eighth Australian Open championship and record-tying twenty fourth Grand Slam singles title total. “She was teeing off on each shot.”

Depart the subtlety, the nuance, to others. These two hit the ball laborious, over and over in Rod Laver Enviornment, exhibiting loads of energy. It’s simply that Williams was barely higher. She ended up with extra winners, 30-24, and extra aces, 9-4, whereas cranking up her best-in-the-game serve to as quick as 126 mph (202 kph).

When Williams wanted to volley, she did, moderately properly, claiming 13 of 15 factors when she went to the online. Extra importantly, she lined the court docket a lot in the best way she did in her youthful days, when opponents’ obvious winners have been rendered mere fodder for her personal strikes.

That left Sabalenka – a 22-year-old from Belarus enjoying in solely her second fourth-round Slam match – visibly and audibly pissed off. She incessantly would scream after misplaced factors. She spiked her racket, too.

With the prime quality of the match, the one disgrace was that no followers have been there to see it in particular person. That’s as a result of this was Day 2 of the five-day lockdown imposed by the Victoria state authorities after some COVID-19 circumstances emerged at a neighborhood resort. (Any cheering or chatter TV viewers heard at residence was being piped in to broadcasters’ feeds).

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