“It was a really intense match, and it was some incredible points,” said Williams, who improved to 9-1 against Halep and now meets 2016 U.S. Open runner-up Karolina Pliskova in the quarterfinals. “I love playing tennis and I love to play here and I love to be back out here.” The 37-year-old American sat out last year’s Australian Open after giving birth to a daughter months earlier and dealing with health complications. Since returning to the tour, Williams has reached the past two Grand Slam finals, losing both — and leaving her still one shy of equaling Margaret Court’s record of 24 major singles titles. Halep offered up the first real test Williams has faced at this year’s Australian Open, where she is bidding for an eighth trophy, pushing her throughout a back-and-forth matchup that was a fascinating mix of power, court coverage and shotmaking. It wasn’t until Williams saved three break points in a monumental game to hold for 3-all in the third set that she gained control. “I was unlucky a little bit,” Halep said. Williams then broke for a 4-3 lead and finally was on her way. “In order for me to stay out there, I had to play a little like I knew I could,” said Williams, who is seeded 16th on account of all the time she took away from tennis while becoming a mother. “I’m such a fighter. I just never give up. It’s definitely something that’s innate. I just work so hard for every point.”
”Please welcome world no.1..”*Serena enters* ”Oh wait” 😂😂😂😂 pic.twitter.com/VmNHwVb90z — SimoReactions (@Simoreactions) January 21, 2019
Pliskova advanced earlier Monday with a 6-3, 6-1 victory over two-time major champion Garbine Muguruza. The other quarterfinal on that side of the women’s bracket features No. 4 Naomi Osaka against No. 6 Elina Svitolina. Osaka, who beat Williams in last year’s U.S. Open final, edged No. 13 Anastasija Sevastova 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 in the fourth round, while Svitolina got past 2017 U.S. Open finalist Madison Keys 6-2, 1-6, 6-1. In men’s matches, 2016 Wimbledon runner-up Milos Raonic knocked off No. 4-seeded Alexander Zverev 6-1, 6-1, 7-6 (5), and next takes on No. 28 Lucas Pouille, a 6-7 (4), 6-4, 7-5, 7-6 (2) winner over No. 11 Borna Coric. No. 23 Pablo Carreno Busta left the court yelling at the chair umpire after a disagreement in the concluding tiebreaker of his 6-7 (8), 4-6, 7-6 (4), 6-4, 7-6 (8) loss to No. 8-seeded Kei Nishikori in a 5-hour, 5-minute marathon that was the longest match of the tournament. Nishikori’s quarterfinal foe will be No. 1 Novak Djokovic or No. 15 Daniil Medvedev.
Serena takes out No. 1 seed Halep in 3 sets and remains alive for her 24th Major pic.twitter.com/ypziy6W8PV— Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) January 21, 2019