By Sudipto Ganguly
MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Serena Williams staved off a spectacular fightback from world number one Simona Halep to win 6-1 4-6 6-4 and reach the quarter-finals of the Australian Open on Monday.
Halep broke Williams’ serve in the first game but that was the only one she managed for the rest of the opening set as the 23-time Grand Slam champion bulldozed her way through the set in 20 minutes, serving it out with an ace.
French Open champion Halep fought back in the second set to level the match after breaking Williams a second time before the seven-times Australian Open champion got the crucial break in the seventh game of the decider and sealed the match in an hour and 47 minutes.
For a place in the semi-finals, Williams will meet Czech seventh seed Karolina Pliskova, who thrashed twice Grand Slam champion Garbine Muguruza 6-3 6-1 earlier on Monday.
(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly; editing by Ian Chadband)