Serena Williams Powers Through To Ninth Australian Open Semi With Win Over Halep - UBITENNIS
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Serena Williams Powers Through To Ninth Australian Open Semi With Win Over Halep

The 39-year-old experienced some difficulty behind her serve in the second set during what was an otherwise clinical win in Melbourne Park.

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Serena Williams is just two wins away from equalling Margaret Court’s all-time Grand Slam trophy record after disposing of second seed Simona Halep in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open.

 

The world No.11 overcame some troublesome serving in the second set to prevail 6-3, 6-3, over Halep in what was their first meeting in almost two years. It was Williams’ power that proved decisive as she fired a total of four aces and 24 winners throughout the 82-minute encounter. Although there is room for improvement for the former champion who also dropped her serve three times and leaked 33 unforced errors.

“I definitely think this is the best match I have played in the tournament, for sure,” Williams said during her on-court interview. “I had to going up against the number two in the world so I knew that I had to do better.’
“That’s what I did and I am excited.”

The early anticipated showdown between the two Grand Slam winners was a chance for Williams to avenge her comprehensive loss to Halep in their previous meeting at the 2019 Wimbledon Championships. This time round, the 39-year-old produced a mixture of power and clever angle shots to dictate proceedings throughout the majority of the first set.

Trading breaks of serve early on in the match, Williams started to exert her dominance during in the sixth game after back-to-back Halep errors enabled her to break once again for a 4-2 lead. Although this time she was able to back it up with ease. The intensity of Williams’ tennis was one that visibly frustrated her opponent who appeared to be bemused by some calls being made by the automatic Hawk-eye Live system. Racing towards a 6-3 lead, Williams closed it out in clinical fashion with a love service game.

In what is her 20th main draw appearance in Melbourne, only twice has Williams lost a match at the tournament after winning the first set. Although trying to close the match out was problematic as the American’s unforced error count rapidly increased during the second frame. Twice Wiliams was forced to battle back from a break down against a determined Halep who refused to give up. However, once again her clever use of her angle shots saved her as she weathered the storm to move to a 5-3 lead. Closing in on a record 92nd victory in the tournament, she prevailed on her second match point by hitting another forehand winner.

“I realised that I was making a lot of unforced errors in those games that I lost and I knew I had an opportunity to play better. So I just stayed in there (the match), keep going and that is what I did,” she commented on her comeback.
“I can make leaps and improvements really fast. I know throughout my career speed has been the thing which is super good in my game,” she later added.

Awaiting Williams in the semi-finals will be the formidable Naomi Osaka who is also yet to drop a set in the tournament. The Japanese player defeated Hsieh Su-Wei 6-2, 6-2, earlier in the day.

She’s Serena, someone that I feel really intimidated when I see her on the other side of the court,” Osaka said during her press conference.

Whilst Osaka says she is intimidated by her upcoming opponent, Williams says she is inspired by hers.

“She’s such a strong person on the court and an inspirational person off the court, which I think is really cool. It’s so good to see someone who is inspiring in both things when they do their job or not,” she said of Osaka.
“I feel like this is such a good opportunity for me to do my best in the first grand slam of the year.”

As a result of her latest win Williams has now reached 40 Grand Slam semi-finals in her career.

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Aljaz Bedene rallies from one set down to beat Jannik Sinner in Montpellier

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Slovenia’s Aljaz Bedene came back from one set down to beat 2019 Next Gen ATP Finals champion Jannik Sinner 3-6 6-2 7-6 (7-5) to reach the second round at the Open Sud de France in Montpellier. Sinner was hindered by a back injury in the final stages of the match. 

 

Bedene entered the match with a 2-1 lead in his head-to-head matches against Sinner, but the Italian 19-year-old player won their most recent clash at the Great Ocean Road Open in Melbourne en route to the second title of his career.  

Sinner earned his only break in the fourth game to take a 3-1 and held his next service games to close out the opening set 6-3 with a forehand down the line. 

Sinner went down 0-40 in the fourth game of the second set on serve, but he saved three consecutive break points. Bedene converted his fourth break point at deuce, as Sinner made an error at the net. Sinner forced the next game to deuce, but Bedene held his serve to open up a 4-1 lead. Bedene closed out the second set 6-2 with his double break at 15.

Sinner saved a break point and held serve after two deuces in the second game. The Italian player wasted two break points in the third and fifth games. 

Sinner earned an erly mini-break, but Bedene got back on serve immediately. Bedene opened up a 4-2 lead with two more mini-breaks in the tie-break before Sinner received a medical time-out to a lower back injury. Bedene earned two more mini-breaks to close out the match after 2 hours and 39 minutes. 

Bedene becomes the first player outside the top 10 to defeat Sinner indoors in a year. Sinner entered the match on a 10-match indoor winning streak against players outside the top 10, which dated back to the quarter final defeat against Pablo Carreno Busta in Rotterdam. 

“In the first set Sinner was the better player. Afterwards, I became more aggressive and was making less mistakes. I think that decided it. On the important points I was there. I didn’t lose my focus”, said Bedene. 

Bedene set up a second round match against Egor Gerasimov, who beat Andy Murray 7-6 (10-8) 6-1on Tuesday evening. 

Alejandro Davidovich Fokina converted six of his fifteen break points to overcome Bernabe Zapata Miralles 7-6 (7-3) 5-7 6-2 setting up a second round match against Hubert Hurkacz. 

French qualifier Gregoire Barrere broke twice in each set and won 65 % of his second service points to defeat Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-4 6-4. 

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Marin Cilic beats Taro Daniel to reach the quarter final at the Singapore Open

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Former US Open champion and world number 3 Marin Cilic won 82% of his first-serve points and and fended off three of the four break points he faced to claim a 7-5 6-4 win over Taro Daniel after 1 hour and 40 minutes at the Singapore Tennis Open. 

 

Cilic converted his second break point at deuce in the third game to take a 2-1 lead. Daniel broke back in the eighth game to draw level to 4-4. Cilic earned his second break in the 11th game and served out the first set at love in the 10th game. Cilic earned the only break in the 10th game to seal the second set 6-4. 

Cilic set up a quarter final match against South Korea’s Soonwoo Kwon, who came back from one set down to beat Thai-Son Kwiatkowski 4-6 6-3 6-4. 

Fourth seed Alexander Bublik fired 10 aces to beat Turkish qualifier Altug Celikbilek 6-3 6-2. Bublik will take on Yoshihito Nishioka, who won 62 % of hsi second serve points to claim a 6-4 6-2 win over Maxime Cressy. 

Australia’s Alexei Popyrin overcame Adrian Andreev 6-1 5-7 6-3. Popyrin earned two breaks in the fourth and sixth games to win the first set 6-1. Andreev sealed the second set 7-5 with his only break in the 12th game. Poppyrin broke twice in the fifth and ninth games to close out the third set 6-3.  

Italy’s Roberto Marcora broke once in each set to upset former top 10 player Ernest Gulbis 7-5 6-4 setting up a second round match against Frenchman Adrian Mannarino. Matthew Ebden edged Yuki Bhambri 6-3 7-6 (7-3) to secure his spot in the second round where he will face second round match against second seed John Millman.

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Lorenzo Sonego beats Sebastian Korda to reach the quarter final in Montpellier

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Lorenzo Sonego cruised past US Next Gen player Sebastian Korda 6-3 6-2 after 1 hour and 15 minutes to reach the quarter final for the eighth time in his career on the ATP Tour. Sonego will face either David Goffin or Benjamin Bonzi. 

 

Sonego did not convert a break point at 2-1 in the opening set. Korda earned two break points in the fifth game, but Sonego saved them at deuce. The Italian player broke serve at 15 to open up a 4-2 lead and held his next service games to claim the first set 6-3.

The second set went on serve the first four games before Sonego earned a break with a forehand passing shot to take a 3-2 lead. The 2020 Vienna finalist came back from 0-30 down to hold his serve before breaking for the second time in the seventh game at 15 to race out a 5-2 lead. Sonego served out the win on his first match point in the eighth game to reach his first ATP Tour quarter finals this year.

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