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Serena Australian Open

Australian Open day nine: Williams downs Halep to sets up Osaka tie

Serena Williams took another step towards a record eighth Australian Open title, overcoming World No.2 Simona Halep on day nine of the tournament.

The tenth seed, targetting a record 24th Grand Slam, overcame Halep in straight sets 6-3, 6-3, producing 24 winners in what she called her best performance of the tournament so far.

The 39-year-old is hoping to win her first Grand Slam since winning this tournament in 2017, having lost her last four finals, including the last time these two met at Wimbledon in 2019.

Standing in her way is US Open champion Naomi Osaka, after the Japanese third seed beat Su-Wei Hsieh with relative ease, prevailing 6-2, 6-2.

Osaka, who beat Williams in the 2018 US Open final, will look to claim her second title in Melbourne having previously won in 2019.

In the men’s singles, there was a shock as qualifier Aslan Karatsev came from a set down to win three on the bounce to eliminate 18th seed Grigor Dimitrov 2-6, 6-4, 6-1, 6-2 and progress to the semi-finals.

Dimitrov started well, but having picked up a back spasm before the match, was unable to keep up his intensity and was clearly unable to perform at his best as Karatsev swept past him in the third and fourth sets.

With an ATP ranking of 114 heading into the tournament, Karatsev has become the lowest-ranked player to reach a Grand Slam semi-final since Goran Ivanisevic at Wimbledon in 2001, and the first man to do so in his debut Slam.

In the next round Karatsev faces the biggest challenge imaginable, World No.1 and defending champion Novak Djokovic, who struggled at times but eventually beat sixth seed Alexander Zverev.

Zverev had opportunities in both the third and four sets to close in on victory, but could not take them as the eight-time champion prevailed 6-7(6), 6-2, 6-4, 7-6(6).

Elsewhere, Alfie Hewett and Gordon Reid claimed back-to-back men’s wheelchair doubles titles, as the number one seeded pair overcame second seeds Stephane Houdet and Nicolas Peifer of France in straight sets 7-5, 7-6.

The win sees the pair claim a British record-equalling 10th Grand Slam doubles title.

But fellow British wheelchair players Lucy Shuker and Andy Lapthorne both lost their respective doubles finals.

Lapthorne partnered American David Wagner but the pair were unable to overcome top seed Australian pair Dylan Alcott and Heath Davidson in the quad wheelchair final.

In the women’s wheelchair doubles Shuker teamed up with South Africa’s Kgothatso Montjane but were unsuccessful against Dutch pair Aniek van Koot and Shuker’s former teammate Diede de Groot.

You can follow the rest of SWL’s Australian Open coverage here.

Featured image credit: Boss Tweed via Flickr

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