Naomi Osaka may have survived a scare in her fourth round match in Melbourne, but one wouldn’t have known it on Tuesday.
Osaka cruised to a quick win over Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei in straight sets, 6-2, 6-2, in her quarterfinal matchup at Rod Laver Arena at the Australian Open.
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) February 16, 2021
Osaka, the world No. 3, split her first two sets with Hsieh before going on a quick three game run — which she solidified with an ace after getting into a tight battle at the end of the fifth game — to take a 4-1 lead in the first set. From there, she quickly pushed to take the 6-2 win and win the first set.
With the momentum in hand, Osaka rolled to a quick 3-0 lead in the second set with ease while giving up just four points. Though Hsieh grabbed an easy win in the fourth game, and another in the sixth, it was too late. Osaka wrapped up the set almost instantly to finish the match in just more than an hour.
Though Hsieh’s first run to a Grand Slam singles quarterfinals was beyond entertaining — aside from her viral interviews, the 35-year-old knocked off Bianca Andreescu and Marketa Vondrousova — she simply couldn’t put up much of a fight against Osaka on Tuesday.
With the win on Tuesday, Osaka will take on Serena Williams, who won her matchup with Romania’s Simona Halep on Tuesday — something she will definitely be paying attention to.
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) February 16, 2021
"I always watch Serena's matches anyways," Osaka said. "Normally I never look at my draw, but everyone's told me about my draw here to I kind of had no choice but to know who my next opponent is. But [it's] definitely going to be really fun."
Serena Williams breezes into semifinals
Williams had a slightly taller task than Osaka to make it into the semifinals. While Osaka had to defeat the unranked Hsieh on the run of her career, Williams had to beat Simona Halep, the No. 2-ranked women's tennis player in the world.
If it was a tough draw for Williams, it didn't show. She dispatched Halep in straight sets, 6-3, 6-3, simply overpowering Halep at almost every turn. Williams finished the match with 24 winners to Halep's nine, and four aces to Halep's zero. Halep did manage to convert three of her four break points, but Williams was relentless.
At 39 years old, Williams looks better than ever. Wearing her stunning one-legged catsuit, a tribute to the legendary Florence Griffith Joyner, she was masterful.
— Tennis GIFs 🎾🎥 (@tennis_gifs) February 16, 2021
She couldn't suppress a dazzling smile as the ball sailed past Halep to seal her victory, sending her to her 40th Grand Slam semifinals.
— くれふぁ@暫定垢 (@umbre_sports532) February 16, 2021
After the match, Williams told reporters that she was more than happy with her performance against Halep.
"I definitely think this is the best match I've played this tournament for sure," Williams told reporters. "Obviously I had to, going up against the No. 2 in the world. I knew I had to do better and that's what I did. I've been watching her and I'm sure she's been watching me."
Williams' husband, Alexis Ohanian, was there to support her, and he did more than cheer. He wore a shirt declaring his wife as the greatest athlete of all time. It's hard to argue.
— robert. (@FierceRobert) February 16, 2021
Williams' win sets up a clash between her and Osaka in the semifinals, which is likely to be the highlight of the entire tournament.
Novak Djokovic overcomes Alexander Zverev to land in semifinals
After a grueling three-hour, 30-minute match that took both players to their limit, Novak Djokovic beat Germany's Alexander Zverev 6-7(6), 6-2, 6-4, 7-6(6) and is headed to the semifinals.
Djokovic, who has told reporters he's been dealing with an abdominal injury, didn't turn in an overpowering performance. He dropped the first set in a tiebreak, and at one point got so frustrated by Zverev and his own play that he smashed a racket. Zverev had an early lead in three of the sets, but couldn't hold off Djokovic and continued to see his leads evaporate.
The lead in the final set, and the subsequent tiebreak, went back and forth. There were chances for Zverev to take it and even up the score, but Djokovic was just too good. He capitalized on Zverev's mistakes, and won the tiebreak with an emphatic ace.
Everyone has been waiting for Djokovic's injury to affect him in some way, and it seems like we'll have to keep on waiting. If he's injured, you certainly couldn't tell.
— Matthew Willis (@MattRacquet) February 16, 2021
After the match, Djokovic credited his medical team for helping him make it through. He hasn't been practicing on his off days to help his injury heal, and he said he plans to continue doing that for the rest of the tournament.
"I have suffered injuries at Grand Slams and retired several times, once at Wimbledon in the quarter-finals and the US Open fourth round. The magic hands of my physio, my team and the ATP physios have helped me.
"I've not been practicing in the days' off and I will keep doing the same thing and hope the result will be the same."
In the semifinals, Djokovic will take on qualifier Aslan Karatsev, who is in his very first Grand Slam semifinal.
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