Osaka, Halep cruise to Aussie Open 4th round, Williams edges through

Bangkok Desk, Feb 12 (efe-epa).- Japan’s Naomi Osaka beat Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur to make the fourth round of the Australian Open on Friday in Melbourne, as No. 2 seed Simona Halep breezed past Veronika Kudermetova in under an hour and 20 minutes.

Osaka won her 17th match in a row in what was often an error-prone encounter, as she beat the No. 27 seed 6-3, 6-2. Jabeur, a quarterfinalist at last year’s tournament, paid the price for failing to convert six of her seven break points and coming up short in the match’s crucial moments.

The No. 3 seed, who won the title in 2019, will play Spain’s Garbine Muguruza, who swept past the Kazakh Zarina Diyas 6-1, 6-1 in just 56 minutes.

“I’ve practiced with her once … I just remember being really impressed by her, and for me, I’ve watched her win Wimbledon and win the French Open, and I’ve always wanted to have the chance to play her,” Osaka said in her post-match interview about Muguruza.

Halep – who put on a defensive masterclass – only produced 12 unforced errors to Kudermetova’s 38 on the way to victory against the No. 32 seed. The Russian was unable to find consistency in her first serve, only managing 48 percent accuracy, and ultimately succumbed 1-6, 3-6 to the Romanian’s impeccable game.

Meanwhile, seven-time champion Serena Williams played a tough first set to overcome another Russian, the unseeded Anastasia Potapova, as she won 6-7 (5), 2-6.

“I came out a little bit not [out] of the starting blocks like I would have wanted to and like I have been since I’ve been playing here, but you know it’s about surviving and playing better every round,” Williams said, following her victory.

It wasn’t a smooth start from the American, as erratic backhand and forehand groundstrokes gave Potapova a 5-3 lead to serve for the set. But nerves got the better Russian, who produced five consecutive double faults to hand Williams a break point. The inexperience got to Potapova again as she led 5-3 in the tiebreak, but the No. 10 seed found four points in a row to take the opening set.

“It was good to get through that match. The first set was extremely tight. I was a little tight, but it worked out. Was able to play a little more free in the second set,” Williams said.

Williams will next play No. 7 seed Aryna Sabalenka on her quest to an eighth title and record-equalling 24th Grand Slam. The Belarussian comfortably beat the American Ann Li 6-3, 6-1. EFE-EPA


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