Serena Williams inches closer to elusive 24th major title

Tanya Simon
January 23, 2019

It's customary for the lower ranked player to walk out first, so it sounds like Williams did the right thing-she's ranked No. 16 while Halep is the world No. 1.

I played better. I stayed in the rallies better. I moved well. So I can not feel exactly what I improved, but I feel like being close to her, it's a good level'. Before that though, in the women's draw US Open champion Naomi Osaka will be looking to get past Ukrain's Elina Svitolina.

I just go home, I will rest, and I will watch tennis.

"I was nearly in the locker room but now stand here as the victor", said Pliskova, who reached the US Open final in 2016.

"End of the year is more important, the ranking, so I will not stress myself about this", she said. "Like, I am happy that I'm here, but at the same time, I want to keep going", said Osaka, who never had been past the fourth round at the Australian Open.

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"I didn't play well that match, so for sure would be good revenge to play her again".

"I have a feeling your daughter Olympia is tucked up in bed", commentator Samantha Smith asked during the post-match interview, to which Serena nodded.

In a startling reversal and result, Williams wasted four match points on the way to dropping the last six games of a 6-4, 4-6, 7-5 loss to Pliskova.

That was compounded by her appearing to turn her ankle in the process, with a double fault and unforced backhand error giving Pliskova the break - and a glimpse of hope. In press conference Halep was still satisfied with her performance: Losing every time is not improving, but I felt like I was closer. "Having a match like that, she will be ready for anything in the next matches". "I saw a chance and I just took it". "Just went insane", Williams said. "It was an intense match and there were some incredible points but I love playing tennis and being out here and I love this court, it's really cool to be back". The chase for that record-equalling major victory will now have to continue at the French Open in late May and early June.

Dominant Williams overshadowed them all and is an overwhelming favourite to win an eighth Australian title, with defending champion Caroline Wozniacki and second seed Angelique Kerber already out.

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