The second week of the Australian Open 2019 started on a remarkable note with Serena Williams knocking out the World No. 1, the top seed Simona Halep in three sets on Monday evening. Later that evening, Novak Djokovic also cruised into the quarters with a four-set win over Daniil Medvedev.
Serena Proves Her Mettle
Williams’ match against Halep was one of the most entertaining matches of the tournament so far. The American, who is aiming to win her 24th Grand Slam title and equal Margaret Court’s record, dropped a set for the first time in Melbourne.
The two players took the stage in the jam-packed Rod Laver Arena. Serena was the first one to serve and in a highly surprising manner, she lost the break in the very first game of the match. However, Halep couldn’t hold on to that break and Williams got back in the very next game.
Thereafter, it was a ruthless display of power by Williams who tamed Halep and made little work of her. She won the first set 6-1 in just 21 minutes on the back of 10 winners, in contrast to Halep’s three.
It wasn’t until the second set that Halep found her rhythm. The quality of her shots improved and she asked Serena some difficult questions. More impressively, she committed only two unforced errors in the second set while her American adversary committed 10. The Romanian eventually got a break in the last game and won the set 6-4.
The third set, by far, was the most entertaining one. The turning point of the match came in the sixth game, with Williams serving at 3-2. The two players alternated between deuce and advantage five times, with the reigning US Open runner-up saving three break points. Serena ultimately won that game to make score 3-3 in the final set and this is where Halep’s will started to crack.
Halep lost her service in the next game and as a result, Williams took an unassailable lead. It was only a matter of time before the 16th seeded American sealed the victory with 6-1, 4-6, 6-4.
Wiliams approached the net 14 times and won 12 of those points. It wasn’t that Halep was bad – on her part, she made only 12 unforced errors through the match. However, the sheer power of Serena’s shots and an impeccable placement made it harder for Halep to win here.
Djokovic Powers Through
World No. 1 Novak Djokovic edged past the Russian Daniil Medvedev 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-2, 6-3, in three hours and 19 minutes.
The Serbian started the match as the favourite to win and through the course of the game, he looked fairly comfortable. The current Shanghai Masters champion won the first set after getting a break in the final game.
As for the second set, Nole got a break at 2-1 but Medevev was quick to win his service back at 4-2 on Djokovic’s service. Thereafter, the two players battled it out to the tiebreak where the top seed saved three set points before finally succumbing to the Russian’s perseverance.
In the third set, Medvedev lost his service twice and eventually, Djokovic won that set comfortably. A similar tale was seen in the final set as well, with the Serb winning that one in 47 minutes.
While the match was a close one in many aspects, it all came down to the break point conversions. The Serb converted seven break points out of a possible 18 while his Russian adversary won only two out of nine.
He will now face Kei Nishikori in the quarterfinal on Wednesday.