Published: Sun, January 20, 2019
Sports | By Phillip Butler

Simona Halep sets up fourth round against Serena after dismissing Venus Williams

Simona Halep sets up fourth round against Serena after dismissing Venus Williams

Halep will now play Willams' sister Serena, after she beat Ukrainian teenager Dayana Yastremska earlier on Saturday.

Twenty-three-time Grand Slam champion Williams made short work of 18-year-old Yastremska, dropping just three games to win 6-2, 6-1 and cruise into the round of 16, but the nature of the defeat against her childhood "idol" in Melbourne reduced the youngster to tears upon the match's conclusion.

It's become as routine as her service motion: Serena Williams wins a match, walks to the net, hugs her opponent and then consoles the woman she just defeated.

To put things into context, Yastremska was born in 2000, the year after Serena won her first major, and grew up cheering for someone she calls "a legend".

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.

Even if she has repeatedly said Venus is her toughest opponent - losing 12 times to her - Halep inflicted a heavy 6-0 6-2 defeat on Williams at the 2014 WTA Finals.

Serena is now ranked No. 16 in the world.

"I could tell she was quite upset".

"I kind of liked that". She said "you are young, you are very good and you will be a good player in the future".

She hit her first chance into the net but completed the win after Yastremska sent a return wide. "That really broke my heart".

"She played pretty flawless today", Venus said. "It's good to see that attitude", she added.

Against Venus, Halep played her best match in months.

"It's going to be [a] huge challenge for me", Halep said.

But on Saturday, she was standing opposite Williams and swinging her racket.

Unlike any of Serena's foes until now, both Venus (with seven) and Halep (with one) have won a major title.

"I have to move her and give my best".

With those comments, Halep betrayed perhaps her biggest advantage.

Changing pace and direction, using drop shots and with wonderful disguise on her ground strokes, Hsieh stunned Halep and Muguruza in grand slams previous year.

She also noted that when she was younger, "I played against Lindsay Davenport, Martina Hingis, Monica Seles".

Younger players facing an idol like Serena Williams or Maria Sharapova on a grand stage may feel it is a dream come true.

"At the same time I would love for Venus to win".

Right from the start, Yastremska appeared a bit jittery, missing 9 of 10 first serves and double-faulting three times while getting broken in each of her opening two service games. "I just want to try to play my best tennis because I have nothing to lose against them".

What separates Williams from other top players?

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