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Serena Williams battles past world No. 1 Simona Halep to reach Australian Open quarter-finals

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Serena Williams proved too strong for top seed Simona Halep as she booked her spot in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open.
The American, who won the title when pregnant on her last visit down under in 2017, was forced to work far harder than in her first three matches at Melbourne Park as the Romanian fought back in the second set, but the American regained her composure to advance to the final eight.

It was Williams’ first meeting with a world No. 1 since a defeat to Victoria Azarenka in Doha six years ago and she had to be on top of her game to keep pace with the plucky French Open champion in a hard-fought 6-1 4-6 6-4 victory.
She raised both arms above her head at the end of the one hour and 47 minutes contest, knowing just how big a hurdle this may prove to be.
‘It was a really intense match,’ she said. ‘There were some incredible points.
‘I really needed to elevate my game. She’s the No. 1 player in the world and there’s a reason why. She’s a great player. I had to play how I knew I could.
‘I’m such a fighter, I just never give up. I don’t know, it’s definitely something that’s innate. I work so hard for every point.’
Halep, last year’s runner-up, may now be dethroned at the top of the WTA leaderboard, with Naomi Osaka, Petra Kvitova, Elina Svitolina and Karolina Pliskova all within striking distance.

Williams, who hit 43 winners, cannot rise above her in the rankings this week but this result will no doubt serve as another major confidence boost as she looks to equal Margaret Court’s all-time Grand Slam record.
The 37-year-old was involved in a rather humorous faux pas as she walked onto the court to take on the Romanian, entering when Halep’s name was being called out.
It looked as if Williams had heard the words ‘world No. 1’ and forgotten she wasn’t atop of the rankings but the likelihood is that organisers flipped the usual order – where the higher ranked player comes out second – without telling the American.
But Williams delivered a fatal blow to break for a 4-3 lead and made no mistake in booking her spot in the next round.

Williams will meet Karolina Pliskova in the quarter-finals after the Czech’s win over Garbine Muguruza, with the winner set to face either Naomi Osaka or Elina Svitolina.
In the other half of the women’s draw Petra Kvitova faces home favourite Ash Barty, while Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova meets Danielle Collins.

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