Down but not out, Serena Williams into Australian Open QFs. Serena Williams fell to the ground, turned her right ankle right, her body shattered, her rocket flying.
This was the start of the second set of competitive competition-as-it-could-be in the fourth round of the Australian Open against his small version – a stinging blow, a massive groundstroke cut, a terrifying streak – and a light week (Saturday night EST) where things seemed to go.
Williams immediately put his hand up to show that he was right, pulled the straps off his right shoe, and, while it took him a while to regain control, did so, at the right time. Catching the last two games, Williams outscored 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 winning number 7 seed Aryna Sabalenka to reach the quarterfinals at Melbourne Park.
Two years ago in this tournament, Williams was in danger of winning the quarterfinals where he injured his ankle and lost.
“Yes, my first thought was,‘ No more an ankle injury in Australia. ’But I quickly knew it wasn’t. Then I was more embarrassed than anything. I kept saying, ‘Oh, my goodness.’ I don’t like to fall, “Williams said. But I was fine. I mean, when I see that I haven’t changed my ankle, like I used to say, ‘All right, all right, let me just stand up.’ ”
Williams, who wore a black T-shirt with “Unstoppableable Queen” in big gold letters at her press conference, came close to the eighth Australian Open and recorded the 24th Grand Slam singles title.
The most recent came in 2017, when she was pregnant.
On a cloudy day in the mid-60s Fahrenheit (high teens Celsius), both William and Sabalenka spend a lot of money in a subtle or nuance way.
“I was fine, actually,” Williams said. “If he wants to play power, let’s go.”
The duo hit the ball hard, repeating it at Rod Laver Arena, and Williams was much better. He ended up with a lot of winners, 30-24, and a lot of aces, 9-4, while consolidating his excellent fast-paced game of 126 mph (202 kph).
While Williams needed to volunteer, he did well, scoring 13 of 15 points while going into the net. Most importantly, he covered the court as much as he did in his younger days, when the seemingly victorious opponents were given only fodder for his strikes.
Nor did he show any signs of trouble from left Achilles’ left-back tendon that sidelined him in the US Open final in September and forced him to withdraw from the France Open ahead of the second round later that month.
“I have worked really hard on my journey. Yes, I like to return balls. I mean, obviously I like to be guilty, but I can also play well to defend myself, ”said the 39-year-old American. “I never thought about my Achilles. It is much better not to think about it. Oh my goodness.”
Sabalenka – a 22-year-old Belarus player playing his second game in the fourth round of Islam – was frustrated and outraged. He always cried after missing points. He also pulled out his racket.
With the high quality of the game, the only shame was that there were no fans present to see it for themselves. That’s because this was Day 2 of a five-day closure imposed by the state of Victoria after some COVID-19 cases appeared at a local hotel. (Any happy or chatty TV viewers who heard at home were pulled through pipes and fed to broadcasters).
Next, Williams is confirmed to face another Grand Slam champion: Simona Halep or Iga Swiatek, scheduled to meet on Sunday night.
The other finalists in that part of the line-up will be Naomi Osaka who will face 35-year-old Hsie Su-wei of Taiwan.
The first man to win on Sunday was completely unexpected: Aslan Karatsev, a 27-year-old Russian player ranked 114th, is the first player in the quarter to reach the quarterfinals in his first Grand Slam match. Kararatsev has replaced Felix Auger-Aliassime with the 20th seed.
Osaka recently advanced, scoring two points in the match and holding the last four games over Garbiñe Muguruza.
The third-generation Osaka returns to the quarterfinals of the tournament they won in 2019 with one of his three major trophies. Osaka ran his winning game into 18 games – a race that included a U.S. Open title in September.
“He plays well. Great shooting, great service, ”said Muguruza. “That gives him a lot of free points.”
The crucial moment came when Osaka worked 15-40 while trailing 5-3 in the final set. Muguruza could not turn any chance of finishing things: Osaka dropped one of his 11 aces at 118 mph (191 kph) in the first; Muguruza missed the stigma for a second.
Fifteen minutes later, the game was over.
Hsieh’s 6-4, 6-2 victory ranked 71st in the 2019 French Open finals Marketa Vondrousova made her the oldest woman to start playing in the major quarterfinals in professional time.
This is Hsieh’s 38-year-old grandfather, who beat 2019 US Open champion Bianca Andreescu in the second round.