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The Australian Open: Women’s Coverage

Christie Wang, Writer

In the Australian Women’s Open, top seed Simona Halep recovered with a third-round win that lasted nearly four hours to beat Naomi Osaka from Japan and reach the Australian Open quarter-finals. The Romanian, 26, came through a tight first set before racing away to a 6-3 victory in Melbourne. Halep had shown no sign of the ankle injury she suffered earlier in the first round. The two-time French Open runner-up is chasing a Grand Slam title after securing the No.1 ranking last October.

One could argue the world No.1 has no business still competing in the event.

She trailed 2-5 in the first set of her first-round match against Australia’s Destanee Aiava, and wrenched her ankle before somehow sealing a straight-sets win. “It’s sore. I felt the pain. It’s not recovered. It’s impossible to recover after. After this match I think tomorrow is gonna be worse,” Halep said, forebodingly, about her ankle. That near four-hour battle set up a fourth-round encounter with Osaka, with many tipping the prodigiously powerful 20-year-old to upend the top seed. Yet Halep arrived at Margaret Court Arena and played her best match of the tournament, looking remarkably fresh and moving better than in her previous rounds to record a commanding victory.

Karolina Pliskova, 25, beat fellow Czech and 20th seed Barbora Strycova 7-6, 6-3, 6-2 in a night session match lasting 2 hours, 41 minutes at Rod Laver Arena to reach the Australian Open quarterfinal. She served and volleyed regularly, attacking the net frequently – but once she did she jogged across the finish line. Pliskova finished the night with just four aces, partly due to the excellent read Strycova had on her serve, but she leaned on other weapons to get her through, blasting 42 winners in total. Next up: it was Simona Halep. However, Halep defeated Pliskova in the quarterfinals. With Halep’s powerful and aggressive returns, Pliskova was unprepared. Halep restricted Pliskova’s serves to a mere total of three aces. “My serve is not that effective on her. She returns pretty well. She’s strong on the backhand side,” Pliskova said. The result is that Halep has reached the semi-final stage in the Grand Slam tournaments. Her next obstacle will be the undefeated (in 2018) 2016 champion Angelique Kerber.

Photo courtesy of XBET.AG

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The Australian Open: Women’s Coverage