Serena Williams makes ultimate statement of intent as she beats world No 1 Simona Halep to reach Australian Open quarter-finals
- Serena Williams beat Simona Halep 6-1, 4-6, 6-4 at the Australian Open
- American lifted herself at crucial times against world No 1 to reach last eight
- It is the most significant win since Williams returned to the court after childbirth
- She will face Karolina Pliskova, the seventh seed, in the quarter-finals
- The win came after Serena made an embarrassing gaffe when walking out
It must have felt like old times for Serena Williams, walking out on to the Rod Laver Arena as the stadium announcer declared: ‘the world No 1’.
But despite her 23 Grand Slam titles Williams is, according to the rankings, the 16th best player in the world.
Realising she had come out too early, she had to sheepishly walk back into the tunnel past a grinning world No 1 Simona Halep.
Serena Williams celebrates after winning a point during her fourth-round match with Halep
The American defeated No 1 Halep 6-1, 4-6, 6-4 to reach another Australian Open quarter-final
But Williams had the last laugh as she beat the speedy Romanian to move three wins from another Grand Slam title.
She faces seventh seed Karolina Pliskova in the quarter-finals. Winning the title would mean some form of redemption from the US Open, where Williams lost the final after her meltdown with the chair umpire over code violations stemming from the illegal courtside coaching of her mentor Patrick Mouratoglou.
After she had edged past Halep 6-4 in the deciding set Mouratoglou denied that he feared for his job in the wake of the controversy. ‘I didn’t worry about that at all,’ said the Frenchman.
‘For many reasons. First of all, I hope that every time a coach gets a code violation for coaching he doesn’t get fired, otherwise there will be guys fired every two days.
‘Second, I hope that our seven years’ relationship is a bit stronger than a chair umpire.
Williams proved too strong for Halep as her pursuit of another slam continues in Melbourne
Halep was second best for large part of the contest as she succumbed in the fourth round
A delighted Williams waves to the Rod Laver Arena crowd following a significant victory
Halep celebrates winning a point during the second set but she would ultimately crash out
‘Third, if she would have done something I think that would be an emotional decision and she doesn’t do that. She’s much too smart to do that. And even though I would have made a big mistake, which I don’t think I did, she does mistakes too. We are all human, and it’s fine. It’s not a reason for taking a decision that would have an impact on your future.
‘She would never blame me. She takes everything on her because she’s strong enough and courageous enough and confident enough to be able to look at herself and say, I failed. I think she’s smart enough to think like that.’
An old habit that Williams retains is the ability to lift her game at crisis points, as she did when facing break points at 2-3 in the third set against Halep.
It is pleasing to note that she was able to do so without resorting to the kind of ranting and self-beration that has manifested itself in the past when she has dredged deep to summon up the ultimate effort.
Serena Williams suffered an embarrassing gaffe before her game at with Simona Halep at the Australian Open. Hearing the announcement ‘world No 1’ she walked out to the court
Unfortunately that was meant for her opponent Halep, meaning Williams, the current No 16 in the world, had to perform an embarrassing u-turn
The American walked back off court at the Rod Laver Arena after realising her gaffe
Moments later, Romanian world No 1 Halep took to the court with a broad smile on her face
‘I really needed to elevate my game, I had to play like I knew I could and that was hopefully the difference,’ she said.
‘I’m such a fighter I just never give up. It’s definitely something that’s innate. It’s a miracle I’m here and I get to do something I enjoy. I keep fighting for every point.’
In the semi-finals Williams could face a rematch of the US Open final against Japan’s Naomi Osaka, who plays Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina.