MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Serena Williams faced her first real test at this year’s Australian Open and emerged with a 6-1, 4-6, 6-4 victory over No. 1-ranked Simona Halep to reach the quarterfinals.
It was a back-and-forth match Monday night, filled with momentum swings and terrific play by both women.
Williams gained control for good after saving three break points in a monumental game to hold for 3-all in the third set. She then broke for a 4-3 lead and finally was on her way.
The 37-year-old American is trying to win an eighth singles championship at Melbourne Park and record-tying 24th Grand Slam trophy overall.
Williams next meets 2016 U.S. Open runner-up Karolina Pliskova.
Until facing Halep, Williams had dropped a total of only nine games through three matches in the tournament. Not only did Halep exceed that total, she also snapped Williams’ 21-set Australian Open winning streak.
That dated to the start of Williams’ run to the 2017 title, which she won while pregnant. She gave birth to a daughter in September 2017, then sat out last year’s Australian Open.