Serena outslugs top seed Halep as Djokovic battles on

Ruben Holloway
January 22, 2019

The most telling point of Serena Williams' hard-fought win against world No. 1 Simona Halep didn't happen on match point.

'It was a really intense match, ' she said.

"I love playing tennis, I love being out here, I love this court".

Monday night, Williams won a mental battle with herself as much as she won a physical battle against Halep - and while the former might be the difference between making a Grand Slam final and winning one - the latter is nothing to scoff at.

Last October, Patrick Mouratoglou, the coach at the centre of Serena Williams's US Open final meltdown, called for on-court coaching to be permitted at all events. "I have played two really great players over the past few days, and, I don't know, I just have to adjust to that feeling of being overwhelmed a little bit". She's a great player. "I keep fighting for every point". "There's definitely something that's innate". And this stage for me I have to work hard to get the level back, to feel ready 100 per cent every match. At 5-foot-5 and with a serve that typically tops out around 105 miles per hour, she has to be, especially when facing an opponent with one of the most lethal return games in the sport.

But Williams delivered a fatal blow to break for a 4-3 lead and made no mistake in booking her spot in the next round. When Halep hit one shot that caught the net tape and barely trickled over for a victor, Williams looked pained and complained, "I mean, it's not fair".

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The other quarterfinal on that side of the women's bracket features Japan's Naomi Osaka against world number six Elina Svitolina from Ukraine.

When the 37-year-old snatched the memorable win, the entire stadium erupted into cheers - everyone bar one person.

While Williams stayed cool, highly-rated German fourth seed Zverev lost the plot against Canadian Milos Raonic, crashing 6-1, 6-1, 7-6 (7/5) and demolishing a racquet in a massive meltdown.

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Williams gained control for good after saving three break points in a monumental game to hold for 3-all in the third set. But Williams settled down first, compiling a 10-3 advantage in winners to grab the opening set.

Romania's Halep, 27, recovered in the second, breaking in what proved to be the final game.

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"She's the number one player in the world, and there's a reason why".

But as she has time and again done, when the chips were down, Serena just rose to the occasion.

"I felt like I was hit by the train", Halep said after the match.

"Only in the Grand Slams it's not allowed, I think this needed to be said".

Until facing Halep, Williams had dropped a total of only nine games through three matches in the tournament.

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