World No.1 Simona Halep will face seven-time champion Serena Williams in the standout fourth-round clash of Australian Open 2019 after downing Venus Williams 6-2 6-3 in imperious fashion.
The reigning Roland Garros champion, who reached the final at Melbourne Park last year, was fresher and sharper throughout the contest, with Williams’ 33 unforced errors proving decisive. Halep knows Serena will not be so generous.
“I was super-motivated today,” Halep said before assessing her fourth-round clash with the 23-time Grand Slam champion.
“I have just to enjoy, and to give my best. I actually have nothing to lose – I play against a great champion. It’s going to be a bigger challenge, but I’m ready to face it.”
No top seed has lost in the third round of the Australian Open in the Open era, and Halep was in no mood to become the first, playing with an intensity that proved too hot to handle for the seven-time Grand Slam champion.
Williams came into the match with a 3-2 record against the Romanian, but the last of those wins was back in 2013. Halep had won the following two showdowns without dropping a set, including their 2018 clash in Montreal, before adding a third on Saturday.
“I thought about the match in Montreal,” Halep said. “I knew that she was injured back then, but I knew I had 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.
“I think I played smart, aggressive, and also I moved her a lot. I think that's why I could win.”