Serena Williams made a work of her quarter-final clash with Dominika Cibulkova to progress to her 6th Australian Open semi-finals on Wednesday.
The top seed served 15 aces to Cibulkova’s 1 and 31 winners to consolidate a 6-2 6-2 win in an hour and five minutes at the Rod Laver Arena. She faced just two break points the entire match which she saved.
“I feel I played well. I felt I had to,” Williams said. “I feel like when you’re going up against a player like that who is confident on the court – she just had a few good matches – I knew that I needed to really play well or go home.”
Awaiting the 33-year-old American is teenage countrywoman Madison Keys, who fended off a second set surge against the former’s older sister to reach her first-ever Grand Slam last four earlier.
“Madison has a big serve, a huge forehand. She’s improved leaps and bounds,” she remarked. “Obviously, this is her first semifinals. I’m sure there’s going to be many more, including Grand Slam wins, for Madison. So it’s going to be a tough match for me.”
Serena made case for her 19th Grand Slam title in emphatic fashion, throwing kitchen sink and cutlery at last year’s runners-up to boost her credentials as favourite for a 19th Grand Slam title this term. She has gone on to win the title every time she’s made it past the quarter-finals.
The five-time winner raced into a 5-1 lead in a blistering start to the opener. After dropping the seventh game, she re-asserted herself from 15-30 down in the next, reeled off three aces in a row to finish off.
There was not the slightest signs of comeback for the 11th seed Slovak as Serena saved two break points to take a 3-1 lead. She broke the 25-year-old for a third time at 4-2 for a loss of 8 points on her own serve in the set and will go into her semi-final tie with her 14-year younger countrywoman with a 5-0 record in Melbourne Park.
Keys- youngest of this year’s quarter-finalists- fought back from injury and a break down in the decider against the oldest Grand Slam quarter-finalist since Chris Evert at the US Open in 1989 to claim a 3-4 4-6 6-4 victory.
She was in cruise control before a recurrence of the left thigh injury from her Wimbledon campaign a year ago hampered her movement, forcing her to gift Venus errors midway through the second set, which she eventually dropped.
And limping between points on her return from injury break with her leg strapped, the seven-time Majors winner looked set to capitalise on her condition but the 19-year-old impressively rallied from 3-1 down in the final set to tie Venus 1-1 on their head-to-head.