Serena Williams rolls back the years in brilliant straight sets win over Simona Halep as she reaches the Australian Open semi-finals to take another step towards equalling Margaret Court’s record of 24 Major titles
Looking the fittest she has done since winning her last Grand Slam four years ago – at the same venue – she took 82 minutes to overpower the Romanian 6-3 6-3 with a statement victory.
On a deserted Rod Laver Arena she displayed incredible mobility against one of the best movers in the game, despite turning 40 this year, and looks ready to equal Margaret Court’s record of 24 Major titles.
She will now face tournament favourite Naomi Osaka, who earlier overcame surprise quarter finalist Su Wei Hsieh of Taiwan 6-2 6-2.
‘I definitely think this was the best match I have played this tournament, for sure,’ said Williams. ‘I knew I had to do better and that’s what I did.
‘Last year my coach had a long talk with me and said that I had to do better in defence. I can improve leaps and bounds really fast. Sometimes I am getting balls and I know I have the legs to do it.’
Williams came out eager not to repeat her mistakes of the 2019 Wimbledon final when she allowed Halep to gain all the early momentum. Playing aggressively from the start, she attacked her opponent’s serve and was happy to hit winners, even at the cost of unforced errors.
The American was well worth the first set, but then at the start of the second mistakes started to creep in, allowing the Romanian to break for 2-0. That presaged a flurry of breaks as Williams slowly hauled herself back in.
The key game was the best of the match, a baseline ding-dong which showcased the American’s incredible mobility as she finally converted a fifth break point after the stiffest of resistance from the other end.
Scurrying around like a 22 year-old, she is reaping the dividend from what has clearly been a lot of work done on her physical conditioning during the off season.