Serena v Sabalenka, Osaka v Muguruza Showdowns Set At Australian Open; Barty Back Saturday
by Staff | February 12th, 2021, 9:09 am
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Serena Williams saved two points in a 7-6(5), 6-2 win over Anastasia Potapova to reach the fourth round at the Australian Open. Serena fell behind a break early in the first but the 19-year-old Potapova completely gagged serving for the set at 5-3 tossing in five double faults including two on set points.

Serena took over in the breaker and then cruised to his 90th career Australian Open win.

“It was good to get through that match. The first set was extremely tight. I was a little tight, but it worked out. I was able to play a little more free in the second set,” Serena said.

On Sunday, Serena will take on the red-hot Aryna Sabalenka. The Belarussian has won 18 of her last 19 after rolling past 20-year-old American Ann Li 6-3, 6-1.

Serena and Sabalenka have never played before.

“She hits very hard. She has a big, big power game,” said Serena. “She’s a big girl. Strong like myself. I think it will be a really good match.”

Sabalenka will have to go through Serena to reach her very first Grand Slam quarterfinal.

“It’s a big challenge, but it’s a tough one, but I’m going to do everything I can to prepare myself for that match, like mentally be ready to get this win,” Sabalenka said.

“She’s a great player, and it’s always a big challenge to play against these kind of players. But I’m going to do everything I can to get this win. We’re all here for the wins and I’m going to do everything.”

Naomi Osaka improved her win streak to 17 with a tough 6-3, 6-2 win over Ons Jabeur.

The win by Osaka sets up a showdown against Garbine Muguruza. The Spaniard crushed Zarina Diyas 6-1, 6-1.

“Very happy also again with my performance today,” Muguruza said. “I feel like the last match, it was a year ago in China. It was very tough battle. I felt like I was more prepared this time after many matches and after playing well.

“I feel like I took control early of the match and kept on going. So happy that this time was not a three-set match. Just happy with, of course, being in the second week of a Grand Slam. Just shows that my game is there.”

Su-Wei Hsieh advanced to the fourth round with a win over Sara Errani. She’ll meet former French Open finalist Marketa Vondrousova who eliminated Sorona Cirstea.

In the evening, Simona Halep got her game in gear with a good win over the in-form Veronika Kudermetova 6-1, 6-3. She now gets a rematch with Iga Swiatek who beat her at the French Open. The Pol won her 10th straight match and 20th straight set in a Slam with a 6-4, 6-3 win over Fiona Ferro.

“Many things I have to do different,” said Halep of the rematch. “It was a very fast match in Roland Garros. I didn’t actually feel anything. She was very fast and very strong in that day. But I will forget that match.”

On Saturday, Ash Barty returns hoping for a better showing against Russian Ekaterina Alexandrova. In all-Karolina Czech battle, Karolina Pliskova faces Karolina Muchova and also Belinda Bencic battles Elise Mertens.

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