Serena Williams is in the Australian Open semi-finals for the first time since she last won a grand slam title, beating Simona Halep to set up a mouthwatering clash with Naomi Osaka.

The American great gained revenge for her Wimbledon final defeat to the Romanian two seasons ago as she conjured a 6-3 6-3 win on Rod Laver Arena.

Halep dropped just four games in that stunning grass-court success in 2019, the third of four grand slam finals that Williams has lost since landing her 23rd major in Australia four years ago.

The 24th title has remained frustratingly elusive, with Williams one away from matching Margaret Court's record haul, but perhaps this is the week where that changes.

She must get past Osaka, her heir apparent as the figurehead for the women's game, but Williams showed her prowess in this match, devastatingly proving a point.

Her power won out, with 24 winners to just nine from Halep, although the 33 unforced errors from Williams showed there is room for improvement in precision.

The tone was set from the first point, Williams with a brilliant forehand service return winner on the forehand side on her way to an immediate break of serve.

Halep forced her way level but Williams raised the tempo in the sixth game and a deep forehand into the Romanian's backhand corner secured a 4-2 advantage.

Williams served out the set to love at the first opportunity but then dipped early in the second set, Halep pinching a break when the American volleyed waywardly at the net.

What proved a consistent theme was Halep's struggle to hit through her opponent, and the two-time grand slam winner could not capitalise on a 3-1 lead in that second set, dropping five successive games as the 39-year-old Williams began to turn on some vintage form.

Dismissive of the often weak Halep serve, Williams swept through to the clash with Osaka.

"I definitely think this was the best match I've played this tournament for sure," Williams said. "I had to, going up against the number two in the world. I knew I had to do better and that's what I did, so I'm excited."

Looking forward to facing Osaka, Williams said in her on-court interview: "She's such a strong player on the court and such an inspirational person off the court, which I think is really cool. I've been watching her and I'm sure she's been watching me."

Former world number one Naomi Osaka is unfazed about her record at grand slams as she eyes consistency after reaching the Australian Open semi-finals.

Osaka will face either 23-time slam champion Serena Williams or Simona Halep in the semis following Tuesday's emphatic 6-2 6-2 win over Hsieh Su-wei in Melbourne.

Three-time major winner Osaka has gone on to win the title each time she has reached the quarter-finals of a slam – beating Hsieh en route to her 2019 Australian Open triumph.

Asked about the record, Osaka told reporters: "I don't really care about the stat. Just because I've only been to four quarter-finals.

"It feels something like 20. That would be cool. But four, it's not really doing too much for me.

"I would be more impressed if I didn't lose in finals. If it says 10-0 in finals. But the fact is if I don't reach the finals, I lose in the fourth round or the third round.

"For me, I'm happy to be more consistent. I think I'm being more consistent since New York, so that's the ultimate goal for me."

Osaka – in the midst of a 19-match winning streak – overpowered veteran Hsieh on Rod Laver Arena, where the Japanese star hit 24 winners and just 14 unforced errors, while she lost just two of her 25 first-service points.

It does not get any easier for Osaka, with record-chasing Williams or two-time slam champion Halep standing in the way of a trip to Saturday's decider at Melbourne Park.

"I played both of them before I think multiple times," Osaka – confident after saving two match points against Garbine Muguruza in the last 16 – said.

"Halep, I don't really like playing her. She's someone that's really tough, someone that gets the ball back every time. For me it's definitely a mental and physical battle.

"Of course, the same goes for Serena. She's Serena, someone that I feel really intimidated when I see her on the other side of the court."

Serena Williams is moving better than she has in years, according to her coach Patrick Mouratoglou.

Williams, 39, has looked in good form at the Australian Open as she eyes a record-equalling 24th grand slam singles title.

The American has dropped just one set on her way to the quarter-finals, in which she faces Simona Halep on Tuesday.

Mouratoglou said Williams' movement was the best it has been in several years.

"First of all, it's something that we have put the emphasis on because in tennis that's probably one of the most important things. If you are late on the ball, you can't do what you want to do. Sometimes you don't even touch the ball," he told a news conference on Monday.

"It's a sport where you have to be able to move fast from side to side and long enough. It's something that probably in the last two, three years, this had consequences for Serena.

"Even more, when you're not in a good day, you need a plan B. To be able to have a plan B, you have to be able to move well. If you can't move well, there is no plan B. The only plan is attack.

"I think it cost her a few important matches. So we have decided to find a way to bring back the footwork that she used to have in the past. I feel like she's done a great job. She's moving much better."

Williams last won a major title in Melbourne in 2017, losing four grand slam finals since then.

With all eyes on her as she aims to equal Margaret Court's record of 24 grand slam singles titles, Mouratoglou insisted that mark was not an obsession for Williams.

"Does she need that validation? I don't think she needs that validation.  But, I mean, clearly she came back to tennis to win some other grand slams, so that's for sure the goal," he said.

"Now, she's not as obsessed with the 24 than most of the people in the tennis world, but definitely she wants to win grand slams. That's the only reason why she came back to tennis."

Simona Halep set up a quarter-final duel with Serena Williams after showing admirable character to battle back from a set down to beat Iga Swiatek 3-6 6-1 6-4 and seal her 100th grand slam match win.

Halep and Swiatek put on a thrilling show in the night session on Sunday, as the Romanian two-time grand slam champion demonstrated her fighting spirit to come from a set down and reach the last eight.

Swiatek took charge in the first set after saving the first two break points of the contest, eventually putting herself in a commanding position as she won the 10 of the final 11 points of the set, but Halep remained focused as her 19-year-old opponent began to wobble in the second.

Halep then snuffed out any threat of a turnaround by breaking back straight after losing on her own service in the decider and she went on to set up a meeting with Williams, who had overpowered Aryna Sabalenka earlier in the day.

Naomi Osaka also advanced, though she was by no means comfortable, while Hsieh Su-wei beat Marketa Vondrousova in straight sets.

HALEP'S REVENGE

Halep's clash with Swiatek was their first since the French Open last October, when Swiatek ran out a 6-1 6-2 winner and went on to claim her maiden major title.

Revenge was on the cards at Melbourne Park and Halep got the job done impressively, showing her mettle to return from a set down.

"Well, I thought before the match that I have to be a little bit more aggressive than Paris. In Paris I have been very far back, and my ball didn't go through the court," the second seed said. "So, I thought that it's a better chance to go and hit.

"The pressure came from the way I played the last match against her. I just expected a better game from myself, which I did, and I'm really happy about that."

Halep accepts facing Williams will be an entirely different challenge, but she remains confident despite lauding the American a "legend" in her on-court interview.

"Of course it's different, she's the only one with 23 grand slams, so you cannot compare Serena with all of us, because we do not have so many grand slams," Halep added.

"But when I step on the court, it's just another opponent, and always I'm focused on myself more than I focus on who I play. We played so many times. I know what to expect. I will just try to do my game, and I will be confident."

WILLIAMS ON COURSE

All eyes are on Williams yet again, as she hopes to equal Margaret Court's record of 24 grand slam titles – and on the evidence of her latest win, she will take some stopping as she won 6-4 2-6 6-4.

Williams revealed she had to cope with a little off-court stress this week with her clothing line, and Sabalenka certainly kept the pressure up as the 22-year-old took the second set.

But Williams responded well to the seventh seed, who became the first player to take a set off the former world number one. Williams said she remained confident despite that setback.

"Like I said on the court, I just felt like even games that I lost, I was so close to winning. Not all games, but probably most of those games," she said. "I just needed to play better on the big points.  I knew that I could. I still hadn't reached my peak. I was like, 'Okay, Serena, you got this, just keep going.'"

OSAKA RELEASES HER ANGER

Osaka was in a real spot of bother against Garbine Muguruza, but saved two match points.

The 2019 champion Osaka steadied herself and felt more composed after a brief show of frustration, as she struck the ground with her racquet.

Ultimately, she emerged a 4-6 6-4 7-5 victor, and Osaka felt letting frustration get the better of her for a moment helped her cause.

"On the first match point, I was just thinking that I didn't hit a decent serve that entire game, so I should really focus on my serve," he said. "I feel like my serve stats were pretty good that set, so I was just telling myself to do better.

"Then on the second point, when the rally started, I just told myself not to push [the ball] but also don't do something crazy and make a really bad unforced error. I felt the entire match I was overthinking. There was a moment when I got angry and hit my racquet on the ground. I feel like I released a lot of the thoughts that I had. It just made me go more into instinct-based tennis."

She will face Hsieh next, the world number 71 having beaten Vondrousova – ranked 51 places higher – 6-4 6-2.

Serena Williams calmed injured fears after coming through a thrilling back-and-forth against Arnya Sabalenka to reach the quarter-finals of the Australian Open.

Williams, who is pursuing a record-equalling 24th career grand slam and her first major victory in four years, prevailed 6-4 2-6 6-4 after more than two hours on court against seventh seed Sabalenka.

Her struggles during the second set appeared partly attributable to a fall but Williams recovered her poise and the 39-year-old does not expect any ill-effects in a last-eight showdown against either Simona Halep or Iga Swiatek.

"I don't think so. It didn't hurt at all. I didn't roll my ankle, so that was good," she told reporters.

"Yeah, I think it was just dramatic, me being dramatic.

"My first thought was, 'Not another ankle sprain in Australia'. But I knew immediately that it wasn't.

"Then I was more embarrassed than anything. I was like, 'Oh, my goodness'."

Williams moved well throughout the contest, assuaging any lingering concerns over Achilles problems that have dogged her of late - even manging to rally when Sabalenka reeled off three consecutive games from 1-4 down in the decider.

"I've worked really hard on my movement. Yeah, I like retrieving balls. I mean, obviously I like to be on the offense, but I can play defence really well, as well.

"I do get a lot of balls back when I need to. I didn't think about my Achilles. It's so good to not think about it. Oh, my goodness. It's been a problem actually since 2018.

"I just never want that problem again. It feels really good to just play and to run, to not feel that. It's a great relief."

Arguably Williams' greatest inconvenience around the match was not a physical one, after she had to participate in a Saturday conference call to avert an "emergency" at her clothing business.

"Tennis is a lot less stressful. I don't have to manage a team. I do manage a team actually, but it's different," she chuckled. "Even though I am the CEO of my tennis team, it's definitely different.

"I think a part of me loves being on the court because it's free-flowing. It's not like I have to kind of just manage and make sure everyone is able to perform.

"I have a second career and it's fun. One of our main players, our employees, had an emergency. You got to step it up when you got to step it up.

"I was smart about that. I scheduled a call directly after my practice. I was like, 'Okay, I can do it early and still have the rest of the day to relax'.

"And it was during [Williams' daughter] Olympia's nap, so it was perfect."

Serena Williams moved a step closer to a record-equalling 24th grand slam title after outlasting Aryna Sabalenka in an absorbing battle to reach the Australian Open quarter-finals.

Williams – in pursuit of Margaret Court's record slam haul of 24 – has not tasted major success since winning the Australian Open in 2017.

But former world number one Williams and her bid to match Court remains on track following Sunday's thrilling 6-4 2-6 6-4 victory over seventh seed Sabalenka after more than two hours.

No fans were allowed to attend Melbourne Park amid a coronavirus lockdown in Victoria, but there was still plenty of noise inside Rod Laver Arena in a battle between two big hitters.

Williams, who reached 90 Australian Open wins in 101 appearances in Melbourne last time out – she has played and won more matches than any other woman in the tournament's history, prevailed in a tense opening set.

After fending off a break point in the seventh game, Williams – moving extremely well against the 22-year-old – was gifted a second break-point chance of her own three games later and she pounced as Sabalenka fired a forehand into the net.

The seven-time Australian Open champion hit 12 winners and just nine unforced errors in a fast and ferocious first set.

Williams owned a career 53-8 record in last-16 matches at grand slams heading into the contest – last falling at this stage when she pulled out ahead of her French Open showdown with Maria Sharapova in 2018, while her last match loss at this stage came in Melbourne in 2014.

But Sabalenka was unperturbed, the Belarusian – eyeing her maiden slam quarter-final – an unstoppable force against a helpless Williams in the second set, breaking in the first, third and fifth game.

Williams, who only made 36 per cent of her first serves, was moved around the court as she dropped a set for the first time at this year's Australian Open.

Having cut a frustrated figure in the second set, Williams emerged with renewed figure in the decider – the 39-year-old claiming the decisive break of serve in the fourth game for a 3-1 lead before digging deep to consolidate.

Sabalenka reeled off three consecutive games to put the match back on serve, but she was unable to maintain her charge against Williams, who closed out the match on her opponents' serve.

 

Data Slam: Serena steps up on serve
Not much went right for Williams on serve in a lopsided second set. But when it mattered most, the 12th seed stepped up by serving at 71 per cent in the third – winning 17 of 22 first-serve points against Sabalenka.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Williams – 30/26
Sabalenka – 24/36

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Williams – 9/8
Sabalenka – 4/4

BREAK POINTS WON
Williams – 4/9
Sabalenka – 4/11

Naomi Osaka and Garbine Muguruza set up a blockbuster clash at the Australian Open, while Aryna Sabalenka cannot wait to face Serena Williams.

As Williams was tested before winning through, Osaka and Muguruza raced through their third-round outings in Melbourne on Friday.

Osaka and Muguruza dropped just seven games between them to set up what will be their first meeting, which will take place without fans in attendance as Victoria prepares to move into a five-day lockdown beginning on Saturday due to coronavirus concerns.

Sabalenka also progressed and will next face Williams, while Simona Halep cruised through.

 

OSAKA, MUGURUZA STORM THROUGH

Osaka, the three-time grand slam champion, brushed past fellow seed Ons Jabeur 6-3 6-2 in the third round.

The Japanese star, winner of the Australian Open in 2019, is looking forward to facing fellow major champion Muguruza.

"I've practised with her once, but it was on grass, and I was younger. It was maybe like a couple years ago," Osaka said.

"But I just remember being really impressed by her, and for me, I've watched her win Wimbledon and win the French Open when I was younger, and I've always wanted to have the chance to play her. So for me, this is really exciting."

A finalist at the Yarra Valley Classic last week, Muguruza's strong start to the Australian Open continued with a 6-1 6-1 thrashing of Zarina Diyas.

"I don't think we've played each other before. Just looking forward for a fourth round, a good fourth round, playing the top players," Muguruza – who has lost just 10 games in the first three rounds – said ahead of facing Osaka. "I feel like that's always the right way, you know, a good sign. Just expecting a good match."

 

JOB DONE FOR SERENA

Williams' bid for a record-equalling 24th grand slam singles title remains on track after overcoming Russian teenager Anastasia Potapova 7-6 (7-5) 6-2.

In her 101st Australian Open match, Williams secured her 90th career victory in Melbourne. The 39-year-old also improved her overall slam record to 360-51 – Martina Navratilova (306-49) is the only other player to pass 300 wins in the Open Era.

Next up for Williams is Sabalenka, who was too good for Ann Li, winning 6-3 6-1 to reach a major fourth round for just the second time in her career and first in Melbourne.

The Belarusian seventh seed is not daunted by the task facing her when she meets the American for the first time.

"I want to get this thrill. Can I say thrill? I said it right. So it's going to be a thrill. But, yeah. I'm going to do everything I can," Sabalenka said.

 

HALEP THROUGH AS SEEDS CRUISE

Halep reached the fourth round in Melbourne for the sixth time with a convincing 6-1 6-3 win over Russian 32nd seed Veronika Kudermetova.

Awaiting the two-time major winner in the fourth round is Iga Swiatek after the Polish 15th seed got past Fiona Ferro 6-4 6-3.

Swiatek thrashed Halep 6-1 6-2 on her way to the French Open title last year.

Marketa Vondrousova, the 2019 French Open runner-up, reached the fourth round of the Australian Open for the first time after beating Sorana Cirstea 6-2 6-4.

Up next for the Czech 19th seed is Hsieh Su-wei, who battled past Sara Errani 6-4 2-6 7-5 after two hours and 44 minutes.

Errani had won her previous three meetings with Hsieh in straight sets, including winning a set 6-0 - known as a 'bagel' in tennis parlance - in each of those victories.

It meant Hsieh, 35, had a simple plan against the Italian.

"I don't remember when I lose to someone but someone reminded me I eat the bagel every time so I said, 'Okay, I will try to not take any bagel today'," she said.

Serena Williams labelled Victoria's five-day lockdown "rough" as the Australian Open prepares to go behind closed doors amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Fans will not be allowed to attend Melbourne Park - where crowds have been capped at 30,000 per day - from 11:59pm (local time) on Friday until Wednesday after the Victorian government announced a new state-wide lockdown to control an outbreak of the UK COVID-19 strain.

Victorian premier Daniel Andrews made the announcement as Williams booked her spot in the fourth round of the Australian Open, where the 23-time grand slam champion overcame Anastasia Potapova 7-6 (7-5) 6-2.

"I didn't know at all until the match was over. I think it's good that I didn't know," seven-time Australian Open champion Williams told reporters when asked about the lockdown.

"It's rough. It's going to be a rough few days for I think everyone. But we'll hopefully get through it."

American superstar Williams added: "It's not ideal. It's been really fun to have the crowd back, especially here. It's been really cool.

"But, you know what, at the end of the day we have to do what's best. Hopefully it will be all right."

Williams - stuck on 23 majors since winning the 2017 Australian Open in pursuit of Margaret Court's all-time record of 24 - was pushed to the limit by Russian teenager Potapova but prevailed on Rod Laver Arena.

The 39-year-old Williams - who has played and won more matches than any other woman in the tournament's history - celebrated her 90th Australian Open victory in her 101st contest.

"It was good to get through that match," said former world number one Williams as seventh seed Aryna Sabalenka awaits in the last 16. "The first set was extremely tight. I was a little tight, but it worked out. Was able to play a little more free in the second set."

Serena Williams remains on track to claim a record-equalling 24th grand slam title after overcoming Anastasia Potapova in a hard-fought battle en route to the Australian Open last 16. 

Williams - stuck on 23 majors since winning the 2017 Australian Open in pursuit of Margaret Court's all-time record - was pushed to the limit by Russian teenager Potapova but prevailed 7-6 (7-5) 6-2 in Melbourne on Friday.

Next up for seven-time Australian Open winner Williams is seventh seed Aryna Sabalenka.

Williams - who has played and won more matches than any other woman in the tournament's history - had only lost four times at a slam to a player ranked outside the top 50 and twice to players outside the top 100.

But she was challenged by Potapova in an error-riddled and difficult opening set on Rod Laver Arena, where the unheralded Russian took the match to her superstar opponent.

Williams hit 22 unforced errors to just 12 winners, faced 11 break points as she was broken twice, and saved a pair of set points en route to a tense tie-break.

Maintaining her challenge, Potapova led 4-2 and 5-3 in the tie-break, but Williams was up to the task - closing out the set in 61 minutes.

Potapova, who only broke the American's serve on one occasion in last year's opening-round loss at Melbourne Park, was not deflated following the tie-break and broke Williams in the first game of the second set.

But like the first set, Potapova was unable to hold serve and Williams took full advantage - breaking twice to secure a 16th fourth-round berth in Melbourne.

 

Data Slam: Williams rolls on in Melbourne
In her 101st Australian Open match, Williams secured her 90th career victory in Melbourne. The 39-year-old also improved her overall slam record to 360-51 - Martina Navratilova (306-49) is the only other player to pass 300 wins in the Open Era.
 

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Williams – 19/31
Potapova – 18/28

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Williams – 9/4
Potapova – 2/8

BREAK POINTS WON
Williams – 5/8
Potapova – 3/12

Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka sizzled in the scorching Melbourne heat on day three of the Australian Open. 

Williams, aiming once more for a record-equalling 24th singles grand slam, made serene progress from round two on what was the hottest day of the tournament so far. 

It was a similar story for Osaka, who is aiming to become a two-time champion at Melbourne Park, but Simona Halep had to dig deep while Bianca Andreescu and Petra Kvitova were early casualties on Wednesday.


PLAIN SAILING FOR SERENA AND OSAKA

Williams' perfect start to the season extended to 5-0 as she swatted aside Nina Stojanovic 6-3 6-0 to set up a round-three meeting with Anastasia Potapova – the same opponent she overcame in Melbourne in the first round a year ago. 

The seven-time Australian Open champion is looking forward to renewing acquaintances with the Russian. 

"It's always a fun, interesting match [against Potapova]. I'm gonna go home, get ready and just do the best," she said.  

"We're all out here to have fun and I'm happy to be out here, and just to be playing in front of crowd again is really cool. So every day is just fun." 

Osaka, the current US Open champion and the winner in Melbourne two years ago, hammered former world number four Caroline Garcia 6-2 6-3 on Rod Laver Arena in the evening session. 

The Japanese star is set to face her friend Ons Jabeur for the first time in an official match in round three. 

"She's really funny," Osaka said of her next opponent. "I don't know if you guys watch any of her interviews. I think she is really funny and nice.  

"I think the match I am going to play against her will be really difficult, but I'm looking forward to it." 


HALEP SURVIVES TOMLJANOVIC TEST

In contrast to Williams and Osaka's comfortable wins, second seed Halep was taken to the brink by home favourite Ajla Tomljanovic, who won the first set and was serving for the match in the third. 

However, 2018 finalist Halep broke back when trailing 5-4 in the decider and battled through with a 4-6 6-4 7-5 victory in a match that saw a combined 94 unforced errors (57 for Tomljanovic, 37 for Halep). 

"I was expecting that she would play very hard and very strong. I expected it to be a difficult match, but it was more than I thought. But I'm really happy that I can smile now," Halep said.  

"I was not that positive when I was talking to myself. I didn't talk about the score, I was just blaming myself, that I'm not strong enough to win against her. But in the end mentally I was maybe a bit stronger than her, and I didn't want to give up." 

Last year's losing finalist Garbine Muguruza (14) was too good for Ludmilla Samsonova in a 6-3 6-1 win, while French Open champion Iga Swiatek (15) dispatched Camila Giorgi 6-2 6-4. 

Aryna Sabalenka (7), Marketa Vondrousova (19) and Veronika Kudermetova (32) all made it through, but fellow seed Elena Rybakina (17) was beaten in straight sets by Fiona Ferro.


EARLY EXITS FOR ANDREESCU AND KVITOVA

Andreescu became the latest scalp for veteran Hsieh Su-Wei, who earned a commanding 6-3 6-2 victory and is now 4-3 against top-10 players in the slams since 2017. 

Eighth seed Andreescu won the US Open in 2019 but missed the entirety of last year with a knee injury, while her preparation here was disrupted by spending 14 days in quarantine after her coach tested positive for coronavirus. 

"After my first round, I thought I would feel more exhausted, but I felt amazing. Also, today the weather was a bit tricky. Being in the heart of quarantine I could have had those extra two weeks of like being in the heat and getting used to sweating and all of that," she said. 

Next up for Hsieh is Sara Errani, who defeated Venus Williams 6-1 6-0. The veteran American rolled her ankle towards the end of the first set and, despite needing two medical timeouts, valiantly saw out the match. 

Kvitova was a runner-up to Osaka in 2019 and appeared on course to recovery after dominating the second set against Sorana Cirstea. 

But amid sweltering conditions, the Czech ninth seed went on to lose the decider. 

"It was quite a rollercoaster, for sure," she said. "Unfortunately I couldn't take the chances to win the first set.  

"I think that was really the key of the match. She really had a great day today; she played a good game. I didn't really bring the best tennis today. It's really hurting."

Serena Williams is embracing the absence of line judges at this year's Australian Open as the record-chasing American superstar dubbed herself a "futurist, like Iron Man" after reaching the third round. 

The Australian Open is taking place without linespeople as a response to coronavirus restrictions at Melbourne Park, where "Hawk-Eye Live" technology is being used on every court. 

It is the first grand slam to replace all line judges with technology as the tournament seeks to limit the number of people on court amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

After easing past Nina Stojanovic 6-3 6-0 on Wednesday, 23-time grand slam champion and seven-time Australian Open winner Williams welcomed the use of technology.

"I like it," Williams, who is looking to equal Margaret Court's record of 24 slams, told reporters when asked about the technology post-match. "I didn't like it in Cincinnati because they had that in Cincinnati and I was, it was different. It was weird. 

"I like it now because it takes away a lot of the human error, which clearly I definitely don't need. I should be the biggest fan of that. 

"But I feel like sometimes I definitely still want to see that ball, but I'm like, okay, even if I see it, the computer's going to show me what the computer just said. So that's kind of how I think about it. 

"I'm a futurist, like Iron Man, so I definitely love technology and it's something that I invest in and so, yeah, I really think is right up my alley."

Williams owns a 359-51 grand slam record in her illustrious career – the only other player to pass 300 victories in the Open Era is Martina Navratilova (306-49).

The 39-year-old Williams is bidding to win her 11th major crown since turning 30.

Only Court (three), Navratilova (three), Chris Evert (two), Billie Jean King (two), Ann Jones (one), Angelique Kerber (one), Li Na (one), Flavia Pennetta (one) and Virginia Wade (one) have won grand slam silverware in their 30s.

Serena Williams booked her spot in the Australian Open third round with a straight-sets win over Nina Stojanovic on Wednesday.

Williams again looked in fine form on her way to a 6-3 6-0 victory over Stojanovic in warm conditions on Rod Laver Arena.

The American star is bidding to equal Margaret Court's record of 24 grand slam singles titles and is on track after her win in one hour, nine minutes.

As her serve gradually improved, Williams – who is dealing with a right shoulder injury – was in control for the most part to set up a third-round clash against Anastasia Potapova.

Stojanovic held her own early, but Williams broke for 3-1, a powerful forehand setting up break point before a backhand error from the Serbian.

Williams was struggling with her first serve – she had a first-serve percentage of just 52 in the first set – but dug herself out of a 15-40 hole to hold for 5-2 on her way to taking the opening set.

A break to begin the second set followed as Stojanovic powered a forehand down the line wide, and three consecutive backhand errors saw her cough up another break to fall 3-0 behind.

Williams took complete control from then on, finishing the second set without an unforced error and losing just nine points to quickly wrap up victory.

 

Data Slam: Williams' second-round dominance continues
Williams improved her record in the second round of majors to 73-2. It also stands at 19-1 at the Australian Open, where she last failed to reach the third round on her debut main-draw appearance in 1998.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Williams – 27/11
Stojanovic – 15/18

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Williams – 6/1
Stojanovic – 1/4

BREAK POINTS WON
Williams – 4/9
Stojanovic – 0/3

Naomi Osaka said she was "really nervous" before facing Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova but showed no signs of that as she breezed into the second round of the Australian Open.

Osaka looked dominant on day one of the first grand slam of the year as she welcomed being able to play in front of a crowd at Melbourne Park, taking only 68 minutes to wrap up a 6-1 6-2 victory.

The US Open champion has beaten Pavlyuchenkova three times in a row after losing when they first met in 2017 but was wary of facing the Russian on Rod Laver Arena.

Third seed Osaka said: "I was really nervous coming into this match. I know that I've played her before, and it was really tough. I just wanted to play well.

"The most recent memory I have of playing her was in the Osaka final [that Osaka won 6-2 6-3 in 2019], so it's always really hard to play someone that good in the first round.

"For me, I feel like it might have also helped in a way because I calmed my nerves because I felt like I couldn't afford to be that nervous. But, yeah, it was a tough match."

Serena Williams and Simona Halep stormed into round two, but the 2016 champion Angelique Kerber crashed out with a 6-0 6-4 defeat to world number 63 Bernarda Pera.

Alison Riske and Wang Qiang were the only other seeds to fall, losing to teenager Anastasia Potapova and qualifier Sara Errani respectively, while Bianca Andreescu made a winning comeback.

 

Williams sisters among major winners to make serene progress

Serena Williams did not look at all troubled by a shoulder problem as she started her latest quest to win a record-equalling 24th major singles title with a 6-1 6-1 demolition of Laura Siegemund.

Her older sister, Venus, also advanced in straight sets, beating Kirsten Flipkens 7-5 6-2.

Iga Swiatek, the French Open champion, was too good for Arantxa Rus, winning 6-1 6-3, and Petra Kvitova got past Greet Minnen 6-3 6-4.

Kerber will not be claiming a fourth major crown this month after falling to Croatia-born American Pera.

 

Halep planning to oust another Australian

Two-time major winner Halep was a cut above Lizette Cabrera, winning 6-2 6-1 in 59 minutes, and is looking forward to facing another Australia in the second round in the form of Ajla Tomljanovic. 

"I like to be here, so I like to play Australians," Halep quipped.

"I feel good. My body is fit. It's always difficult to play a big hitter. So, I have to be strong on my legs, focus on myself and give my best.

"I expected a tough match because I played against her before and I know how it's gonna be. She's a good opponent, a good player, and I will focus just on myself like I do every time, but I'm ready for a good battle."

Andreescu back in business

Andreescu put her injury woes behind her, battling past Mihaela Buzarnescu 6-2 4-6 6-3 in her first match for 15 months.

The Canadian had not played in a grand slam since winning the US Open in 2019 but was back in business on John Cain Arena.

Eighth seed Andreescu said: "After the match, I sat down with my team a little bit, and I'm like, 'Oh, guys, here we go again, those three-setters' and they just started laughing because they obviously knew what they were getting themselves into.

"But those matches are super good for me in my opinion because it really shows that I can scramble when I really need to, or if there's some pressure I can dig my way through it somehow. When my back is against the wall, not only today, but I've noticed throughout my last couple tournaments in 2019, I've been able to pull through with those."

Serena Williams will win a 24th grand slam singles title despite the mental pressure of trying to match the record having held her back, Ana Ivanovic says.

American Williams breezed into the second round of the Australian Open on Monday with a 6-1 6-1 victory over Laura Siegemund.

She won her 23rd major singles title in Melbourne in 2017, taking her to within one of matching the all-time record held by Margaret Court.

However, she has failed to win any of the following 14 slams, marking the longest span in her professional career without lifting any of the four biggest trophies.

Williams has won 22 of her majors over the last two decades, at least 15 more than any other women's player in that time, but her most recent four slam finals have ended in defeat.

Ivanovic, the former world number one who reached the final in Melbourne in 2008, wonders if the significance of matching Court's tally may have added extra pressure on Williams.

However, she remains convinced the 39-year-old will claim another title, telling Stats Perform News: "Yeah, definitely after winning so many grand slams, you still have it and especially [as] she reached so many finals, even though she didn't win a title.

"So, I think it's just a matter of, she proved that she can win matches and she can get a part in the grand slams.

"I think she wants to go further for the record. So I think that's maybe a bigger issue than just winning a title. So, it's both a little bit, I guess mental as well. But I'm sure she can do that. And I'm sure that's why she's there and still pushing and still being on top of the game after so many years."

"She's definitely an icon and a very, very powerful player. And I remember you know, when I played against her, she's very intimidating because her serve is just very, very strong. Her shots are very strong. So you feel like you have to attack and move forward otherwise you don't really have a chance. It was very inspiring to play against her and to play against someone who reached so much in women's sport. I think she will go [down] in history. Definitely."

Reigning champion Sofia Kenin begins her Australian Open defence against home hope Maddison Inglis on Tuesday.

The 22-year-old is hoping to become the first women's player to win successive Australian Opens since Victoria Azarenka back in 2013.

Kenin was a finalist at the French Open last year after winning in Melbourne, having failed even to reach the last eight in her first 11 majors, but she was beaten in straight sets by Garbine Muguruza in the quarter-finals of the Yarra Valley Classic warm-up tournament.

"She seemed very, very solid and very consistent lately, so of course she has a big chance but, like I said, it's so difficult to talk because you don't see the players playing, you don't see what kind of form they're on and how the last months have been for them," said Ivanovic.

"And you know, without competition for so long again, it definitely is going to [have an] affect but she can indeed [win]. One Australian Open and then she went on to the French Open final, so she's definitely been very, very consistent and she's going to I think try to go again.

"I think that's why it's very hard to predict who will be the winner of a grand slam, especially on the women's side. But on the other hand, it's nice to see new faces and new players coming up, and it also brings new excitement to the tour."

Ivanovic also tipped French Open champion Iga Swiatek to challenge in the latter stages, adding: "I do like Iga Swiatek and the way she plays. I like her aggressive game. I like the fact that she runs around and hits her forehead, it was kind of the style that I had. So I really hope she can keep up the work that she did last year and continue to do well."

Serena Williams took inspiration from the "unbelievable" Tom Brady as she cruised into the second round of the Australian Open with a "vintage" performance.

Brady made yet more history on Sunday, the most successful player in NFL history winning a seventh Super Bowl as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat the Kansas City Chiefs 31-9.

The incredible Brady, 43, showed age is no barrier, throwing three touchdown passes – two of which were scored by his long-time friend Rob Gronkowski – and completing 21 of 29 throws for 201 yards.

Brady did now allow any interceptions as he picked up the MVP award at Raymond James Stadium.

Williams started her quest for a record-equalling 24th grand slam singles title with a 6-1 6-1 defeat of Laura Siegemund on Monday, then paid tribute to her fellow American Brady.

She said of his exploits: "It's unbelievable. I just was watching as much as I could to see. My only word is it's unbelievable. I kept saying: 'This is unbelievable, this is unreal'.

"You can't say it was the system he was at formerly [the New England Patriots]. It's definitely Tom Brady, he's Tom Brady. He's amazing."

Brady banished everyone from his house in the days leading up to the Super Bowl so he could fully focus on inspiring the Buccaneers to victory, but the 39-year-old Williams said she could never do the same as she would not want to be separated from her daughter, Olympia.

"I would not be able to go function without my three-year-old around," Williams said. "I think I would be in a depression.

"We've been together every day of her life, so... Is that healthy? Not at all! Not even close. But every single day I just want to be around her. It's great. Everyone's different.

"I can totally understand why he would banish because if I had the strength to do it, I would too.

"I could see it's definitely a distraction, especially every year that I've played except for the past few months, I finally am starting to get better at it. The first two and a half years was very difficult. I wasn't strong enough to do the banishment."

Williams, who will face Nina Stojanovic in the second round at Melbourne Park, was delighted with the manner in which she swept Siegemund aside and had no issues with her shoulder after withdrawing from a pre-tournament event citing an injury problem.

"This was a good start. Definitely vintage 'Rena'. It's definitely good. I think I'm pretty good at pacing myself in a grand slam," she said.

"I was happy just to get through it. Wasn't sure how my serve would be after a little bit of that shoulder, but it's feeling good, I'm feeling good. So, it felt really good.

"Last year was very crazy for the world, and to be able to do what I love and to be able to come out and compete and play at a grand slam, after the last 12 months, it makes me appreciate the moment even more."

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