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Serena Williams powers past top seed Halep into Australian Open quarters

Williams’ quest for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title gathers momentum.

Williams celebrates victory in Melbourne.
Williams celebrates victory in Melbourne.
Image: Kin Cheung

A FIRED-UP SERENA Williams powered past world number one Simona Halep as she inches ever closer to a 24th Grand Slam title.

In a towering performance, the American great scored her biggest win since giving birth to break down the Romanian top seed 6-1, 4-6, 6-4 and move into a quarter-final against seventh seed Karolina Pliskova.

Czech Pliskova is another form player, winning the warm-up Brisbane International and easing past two-time Grand Slam winner Garbine Muguruza 6-3, 6-1 to set up the Williams clash.

“I’m such a fighter, I never give up,” declared Williams after the epic encounter.

“It was an intense match and there were some incredible points but I love playing tennis and being out here and I love this court, it’s really cool to be back.”

Women’s fourth seed Naomi Osaka beat crafty Latvian Anastasija in three sets to set up a meeting with ambitious Ukrainian Elina Svitolina for a place in the semi-finals.

But it was the dominant Williams who overshadowed them all and is the overwhelming favourite to win an eighth Australian title, with defending champion Caroline Wozniacki and second seed Angelique Kerber already out.

AUSTRALIAN OPEN DAY 8 Williams is into the quarters. Source: AAP/PA Images

She has been in ominous form at Melbourne Park as she seeks one more major title to put her alongside Margaret Court’s record 24, and it looked like French Open champion Halep would be another easy scalp after a first set rout.

But the nuggety Romanian isn’t world number one for nothing and she bounced back to set up a huge power struggle that Williams finally won with a break in the seventh game of the third set.

“I really needed to elevate my game. She’s a great player,” said Williams.

Fourth seed Osaka emerged from an error-strewn first set against Sevastova to win 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.

She next faces sixth seed Svitolina, who battled past American Madison Keys 6-2, 1-6, 6-1. 

© AFP, 2019

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