It was a mixed day for the Williams sisters who will not meet on Monday at the Australian Open. Serena did her part to set up a fourth round meeting whacking 18-year-old Dayana Yastremska 6-2, 6-1.
But in the evening, World No. 1 Simona Halep dominated the 38-year-old Venus 6-3, 6-2 canceling the sister showdown.
“I think she played pretty flawless today,” said Venus. “Only 12 errors. Unfortunately, I had almost three times as many. Just needed to keep my errors down. But she played a great match.
“I think I just could have played breakpoints a little better. I was definitely very competitive on every game, but just a few too many errors. It was still a really good match.”
Halep is just 1-8 against Serena.
“It’s a bit different because I only beat her once in my life, so I cannot say much about this match,” Halep said of facing Serena. “Just that it’s going to be huge challenge for me. It’s always great to play against Serena because every time I have to learn something from the match.
“I think I have to play similar, if I can. I have to be smart, aggressive. I have to move her and give my best. I will not super think about this because is nothing to think, just go there and play natural and with confidence.”
In her first official tournament back since the US Open, Serena hasn’t come close to dropping a set in three matches and the 7-time champion has won 15 of her last 17 Grand Slam matches.
“It will be great,” Serena said of facing Halep. “I haven’t played the world No. 1 since I’ve been back, I don’t think. So, yeah, it will be good.”
As for her level, Serena’s still got work to do. “I think I’m getting there,” she said. “I don’t feel like I’m there yet. I feel like I’m still getting there.”
Elina Svitolina held off a spirited charge by Shuai Zhang 4-6, 6-4, 7-5. At 2 hours, 55 minutes, it was the longest match of the women’s tournament at the time.
“It was great fight today, I think for both of us,” Svitolina said. “I think we left everything on court. It was very hot, actually. You know, last night when I checked the weather, it was 20 degrees, max, so didn’t really expect it was going to be that hot. Of course we played a long match, so, yeah, I’m very pleased that I could, yeah, get the win today.”
Madison Keys blew out 2018 semifinalist Elise Mertens 6-3, 6-2. Key’s hasn’t lost a set and looks primed for a very big Australian Open.
“I think I played really well today,” Svitolina said. “I served well, especially in the first set, getting out of some breakpoint situations. I think she played really well, which just made me raise my level.
“In the second set, being able to break a couple of times and bounce back from being broken back, overall I’m just really happy with how everything went today.”
Naomi Osaka had to come from a set and a break down to beat Su-Wei Hsieh 5-7, 6-4, 6-1. Hsieh was in complete command leading 7-5, 4-1 before Osaka flipped the switch and won 11 of the last 12 games to earn her 10th straight win in a Slam.
“She was just playing so well, and I think I got overwhelmed,” Osaka said. “And then early in the second set I tried doing things that I know isn’t necessarily my game, like I was trying to hit higher balls. I don’t even practice doing that. So it felt like such a waste.
“Then after a while, I just started thinking that I’m in a Grand Slam. I shouldn’t be sad, I’m playing against a really great player, so I should just enjoy my time and try and put all my energy into doing the best that I can on every point.”
Osaka is back in the fourth round for a second straight year. She’ll meet US Open semifinalist Anastasija Sevestova who ousted Qiang Wang 6-3, 6-3.
In the evening, Garbine Muguruza overcame a slow start to put away Timea Bacsinszky 7-6(5), 6-2. She’ll meet Karolina Pliskova who toppled Camila Giorgi 6-4, 3-6, 6-2.
On tap Sunday as the fourth round begins, Petra Kvitova clashes with 17-year-old Amanda Anisimova. Maria Sharapova meets Australian No. 1 Ashleigh Barty. Sloane Stephens and Angelique Kerber are also on court.
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