World No.1 Simona Halep of Romania passed yet another tricky test at the 2019 Australian Open, defeating seven-time Grand Slam champion and former World No.1 Venus Williams of the United States, 6-2, 6-3, to reach the fourth round in Melbourne.
“I think I played smart, aggressive, and also I moved her a lot, so I think that’s why I could win,” Halep said, during her post-match press conference, wtatennis.com informs.
“Many things changed inside myself,” Halep stated. “I try just to enjoy more the life, to be more relaxed, which I’m doing pretty well, and I feel much better. I think I will keep doing it.”
Top-seeded Halep, last year’s Australian Open runner-up, survived two dangerous opponents in the opening two rounds of the draw, edging both Kaia Kanepi and Sofia Kenin in three sets, and needed to get past the 38-year-old legend in another highly anticipated matchup to book her spot in the second week.
Williams had won her first three matches against Halep in 2012 and 2013, but the Romanian had turned around the momentum in their head-to-head, winning their last two matches in straight sets, including at the Rogers Cup in Montreal last summer.
This tussle proved to be no exception to that pattern, as Halep claimed the two-set victory in one hour and 17 minutes to tie their head-to-head at three matches apiece. Halep had 21 winners to only 12 unforced errors. While Williams had 24 winners, she had 33 unforced errors, went 1-for-6 on break points, and only won 31 percent of points on her second serve.
“I thought about the match in Montreal,” said Halep. “I knew that [Venus] was injured back then, but I knew I have to play similar tennis, fast, quick, to stay very close to the baseline, which I did great today. Also to serve well because she returns pretty strong. She stays into the court and takes the return very fast.”
In a stunning turn of events, Halep will now face another Williams sister in the round of 16: 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams. Serena Williams ousted Dayana Yastremska, 6-2, 6-1, earlier on Saturday.