Serena left 'heartbroken' as opponent crumbles in tears
- Author: Stacy Allen Jan 20, 2019,
Jan 20, 2019, 1:27
It's a blockbuster showdown between the two marquee stars, booked after Halep defeated Venus Williams 6-2, 6-3 in the third round on Saturday night.
Twenty-three-time Grand Slam champion Williams made short work of 18-year-old Yastremska, dropping just three games to win 6-2, 6-1 and cruise into the round of 16, but the nature of the defeat against her childhood "idol" in Melbourne reduced the youngster to tears upon the match's conclusion.
"I thought she did really fantastic".
The 37-year-old won her 23rd major Down Under two years ago while two months pregnant and is the bookies' favourite to claim an eighth Australian title, despite being seeded 16th.
Williams has dropped a mere nine games through three rounds - her lowest tally at a major since the 2013 US Open, which she won - but will likely encounter greater resistance the rest of the way.
She looked like a woman very much poised to win a second Grand Slam and become only the third player to beat the Williams sisters back-to-back in a major.
Halep went on to say she's "confident that I am in this position" and promised to give Williams her all.
"I kind of liked that". It shows she wasn't just there to play a good match, she was there to win.
"She wanted to win".
"I'm here, I'm playing as hard as I can and doing the best I can, which is really all I can do", she said.
"I played many times against her", said Halep. "It's good to see that attitude".
Halep, 27, reached the final at Melbourne Park in 2018 but arrived this year on a five-match losing streak, equalling the worst run of her career.
"I was ... struggling", said Svitolina, who was treated by a trainer after the second set. Another Halep break courtesy of a Williams forehand error put the first set on the Romanian's racquet and she served it out after 39 minutes. Halep played with her left thigh taped, but moved around the court well. I think either way, regardless, I'll be ready for either opponent.
Looking ahead, Halep said: "It's going to be a bigger challenge".
"The thing is, during their matches they're always trying different things", she said. "I will not super think about this because there is nothing to think, just go there and play natural and with confidence".
"I could tell she was quite upset".
"I honestly would love to face the World No. 1", Serena said. Serena won 74 percent of her total service points and didn't face a single break point.
Further afield if Williams prevails, potentially, are players who have downed Williams at grand slams, Garbine Muguruza, Karolina Pliskova and Naomi Osaka.