In their first meeting since Simona Halep’s stunning victory in the Wimbledon final two years ago, Serena Williams avenged that defeat to reach the Australian Open semifinals and keep her quest for a 24th Major title alive. Williams captured a 6-3 6-3 victory that looked straightforward on the scoreboard but was far from easy. Halep did not lose herself that match, Williams was simply too good and took the match away from the Romanian. Indeed, whilst Halep took their last meeting, Williams has dominated the matchup improving her record to 10-2.
Williams started strong with a quick hold and a break of Halep’s first service game. Halep never goes down easily, and fought right back to even the set at two games all. The turning point came at 3-2 when Williams broke serve for the second time of the set thanks to massive returns, aided by some nervy serving by the Romanian. After Williams took a 4-2 lead there was no looking back, holding her final two service games while dropping a total of just one point to wrap up a 6-3 first set win.
Halep has been known to get frustrated in the past, but held her emotions in check and came out locked in to start the second set. After a back-and-forth game to begin the set where Halep held serve, she took advantage of several errors by Williams on her serve to take a 2-0 lead in hopes to even the match. A mixture of nerves or fatigue began to set in for both players, with no holds of serve for the next three games, giving Halep a 3-2 lead. After the American finally held, the seventh game of the set proved to be the turning point.
Serena had three break points at 0-40, but Halep battled back to deuce. That did not phase Serena who took advantage of her sixth break point of the game to win the break. After following it up with a hold to love, the match felt over and Williams did not waste any time, breaking Halep’s serve for her fourth game in a row to clinch the match.
2020 was the first year since 2006 Serena Williams did not reach at least one Grand Slam final, and many speculated if she would be able to tie the record of 24 major titles. She looks refreshed and dominant down under, playing some of her best tennis in some time. Impressive back-to-back wins over Aryna Sabalenka and Halep showed she still belongs at the top beating not just two contenders for the title, but two players with different styles who present their own unique challenges.
Her semifinal opponent Naomi Osaka will be the biggest challenge of them yet, having another dominant run in Melbourne, while on a streak of not losing a match for over a year. Williams will look for revenge from their infamous 2018 US Open final, and won their last meeting in Toronto two years ago. It promises to be a mighty battle, but if Williams can play like she did against the world #2, it may be hard for anyone to stop her winning her 24th Major title.
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