Former champions Naomi Osaka and Serena Williams steamrolled opponents on Tuesday to set up an all-star semi-final at the Australian Open.

Osaka, who lifted the Melbourne title in 2019, put out Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei  6-2, 6-2 while seven-time winner Williams came from 3-1 down in the second set to beat second seed Simona Halep 6-3,, 6-3 in 82 minutes.

“I had 3-1 and serve didn’t help me much,” Halep said. “I had to be a little bit stronger on the serve but it didn’t work today. She was very powerful at the return. 

#2 seed Simona Halep lost quarter final Tennis Australia/ ROB PREZIOSO

“I had a good match tonight. I’m not that disappointed about myself. Attitude was maybe a little bit negative the whole tournament.

“But I’m gonna work on this, and I will come back stronger, for sure.”

Williams called herself “happy to be here. I’ve got to keep going.

“That’s obviously the goal. I have an incredible opponent to play, so it would be nice to hopefully keep raising the level of my game – I’m going to have to.

“I’m in the semi-finals, that’s pretty awesome.

“No one gets there by chance, so I have got to be ready.”

Japan’s third-seeded Osaka owns a 2-1 record over Williams, with their most notorious match the ill-tempered 2018 US Open final where Williams melted down in a tirade against the chair umpire.

The infamous “Serenagate” meltdown 2018 US Open final defeat by Osaka. Photo Roger Parker International Sports Fotos Ltd

Against the quirky 35-year-old Hsieh, the doubles No. 1 who buys her own tennis clothes due to lack of a sponsor, Osaka moved through in 68 minutes for a 5-1 lead in their series.

“Every time I play her it’s really challenging because I never know exactly what she’s going to do with the ball,” the winner said.

Su-wei Hsieh kisses the court after second round win. Photo:- Tennis Australia/MORGAN HANCOCK

“Today I really focused on my game plan, I was very clear on what I had to do”.

 Like much of the rest of the field, Osaka said she always keeps half an eye on the 39-year-old Williams.

“I grew up watching Serena, Federer, Nadal. It’s just more of a habit than anything. Everyone in the tournament watches her.

 “She’s Serena, I feel really intimidated when I see her on the other side of the court.”

Osaka has a rep to uphold, having never failed to win a Grand Slam title when she gets as far as the quarters.

“I’ve only been to four quarter-finals but I would be more impressed if I didn’t lose in finals.”


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