'Flawless' Halep on Serena Showdown

Osaka Serena Williams set for action at Australian Open

Yastremska used to mimic the 23-time grand slam winner's strokes while watching her play and on the eve of the season's first major, even got a chance to meet the legendary American.

Halep has had a hard start to 2019's first grand slam with matches against Kaia Kanepi and Sofia Kenin before facing the Williams sisters back-to-back, and she says she has never had such a challenging first week at a grand slam.

Since returning to the tour after maternity leave, Williams has yet to win a grand slam as a mother after two near-misses in the finals at Wimbledon and the US Open.

"I kind of liked that".

She was a set and a break down here in her opening round match against Kaia Kanepi, who bundled her out in straight sets at the U.S. Open in August, and needed to summon all her will power to see off the Estonian in two hours and 11 minutes.

Halep did precisely that in her solid win over Venus, her third in a row over the American. It really broke my heart.

The world champion thrashed the teen player beating her by 6-2 6-1 in the fourth round.

Williams, who kept on course to win a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam, will now face Romanian world number one Simona Halep in the last 16.

"I was walking to the net, I started bawling", said Williams.

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"I saw Patrick [Mouratoglou, Williams" coach] in the lift after this one and he said "that's the second opponent she's reduced to tears'".

Playing clean and powerful tennis, Williams overwhelmed 18-year-old Dayana Yastremska of Ukraine 6-2, 6-1 on Saturday.

"The thing is, during their matches they're always trying different things", she said.

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The reward for the 27-year-old French Open champion is probably the toughest challenge in the women's draw at Melbourne Park, a fourth round date with the younger Williams sister, Serena.

"I just want to try to play my best tennis", Halep said, "because I have nothing to lose". She committed only 12 unforced errors and was 5-for-10 on break points.

After comforting the world No.57 on court, Williams took her aside in the changing rooms to exchange some more words of encouragement. She will need that confidence more than ever against Serena, a player Halep has beaten only once in nine attempts in her career. Every time I face the sisters it's a big challenge for me.

Further afield if Williams prevails, potentially, are players who have downed Williams at grand slams, Garbine Muguruza, Karolina Pliskova and Naomi Osaka.

"There's no time for that, I'm sorry to say", the Russian responded when asked if she had any sympathy for her opponent.

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