Serena faces toughest test since return against Halep

21 Janvier, 2019, 07:55 | Auteur: Adelaide Bullion
  • Serena Williams

After topping Ukraine's Dayana Yastremska in the third round of the Australian Open, Williams said she would be prepared to take on either Halep or her sister, especially considering she owns an 8-1 career mark against the former.

Williams, a 23-time Grand Slam champion, has won eight of their nine matches but Halep has won her maiden Grand Slam since their last meeting.

"Don't cry. You did really well". The 37-year-old player, in the sweetest gesture, walked towards Dayana and consoled her while she was crying.

On day six at Melbourne Park, the Romanian finally hit form to pull off her best win of the year and cruise past the veteran American 6-2, 6-3.

But Serena, who has the second-most wins (16) over World No 1s in WTA history, seemed a lot more at ease as she said: "I honestly would love to face the world number one, it will be great".

Williams said after the match that she could tell her opponent upset after the match. "I kind of liked that, you know".

"You go out there and you want to win".

She does not feel she is yet back to her best, prior to giving birth to daughter Olympia, but believes that is coming: 'I think I'm getting there. It's good to see that attitude.

Yastremska had treatment on her right foot but it was only delaying the inevitable and Williams took just a few minutes to bring up match-point after play resumed.

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Yastremska was born in 2000, the year after Serena won her initial major, and grew up cheering for someone she calls "a legend". She doesn't play a full schedule. While Serena has yet to face a true challenge at this tournament, Halep couldn't have asked for a better pre-Serena tuneup than to play her older sister, the woman Serena credits with honing her game and competitive drive, and with whom she shares a similar game. I think either way, regardless, I'll be ready for either opponent.

"I feel like I've been playing well, so things are progressing well", said the Serbian 14-time Grand Slam victor.

US Open champion Osaka came back from two games from defeat to overcome the unorthodox playing style of Hsieh Su-wei 5-7 6-4 6-1.

Williams then admitted she had been there herself when emotions had got the better of her. Serena hopes to make a grand slam quarterfinal for the 13th time in her last 14 appearances. This will be the highest ranked player Williams has faced since becoming a parent.

"I have nothing to lose", she said of facing Serena.

Williams defeated Yastremska in a 6-2, 6-1 victory on Saturday.

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.

She's expending so little mental energy in her matches that when they end, she has more to give, switching as if by autopilot into the role of mentor and motherly ambassador of the game.

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