Serena Williams disabled a shaky start to book an Australian Open fourth-round berth at Melbourne Park. While another professional tennis player, Ash Barty, drew out from the doubles competition within worries the world No 1’s thigh strain is more genuine than she is letting on.
On Friday, the seven-time tennis champion, Serena Williams, had to mend from 5-3 down and save two sets of points in the first set before recording a 7-6 (7-5), 6-2 win over the former Wimbledon junior champion.
Anastasia Sergeyevna Potapova, a Russian tennis player, served for the opening set at 5-3 only to cough up two double faults to invite Serena Williams back in the match. The 19-year-old then led 5-3 in the tiebreaker before dropping four points in a row to grant the set and match drive.
Later on, she took an injury time-out while trailing 4-1 in the match’s second set. Nevertheless, it could not stop the unstoppable Serena Williams from proceeding after an hour and 37 minutes to the last 16 in Melbourne Park for an overwhelming 16th time. The 10th seed said,
“It feels good to be in the fourth round, and it is so good to get through that match. I felt like I came out not off to the starting blocks like I would have wanted to and like I have been since I have been playing here. However, it is about surviving and playing better every round.”
On Sunday, the 39-year-old American will take on in-structure seventh seed Aryna Sabalenka from Belarus for a quarter-last spot, offering a record-equaling 24th grand slam singles crown. Barty and American Jennifer Brady were scheduled to play Sabalenka, and on Friday, Elise Mertens to play in the second round, but it was handed the second seeds a walkover.
Australia’s single top seed raised eyebrows when she had her left thigh heavily broke during Thursday’s 6-1, 7-6 (9-7) second-round victory with Fed Cup teammate Daria Gavrilova. However, the unstoppable 24-year-old enthusiast played down the injury with Team Barty.
On her Friday’s statement, she said that it was merely “muscle soreness” after a tough schedule of continuous seven matches in less than a fortnight, then following almost a year-long dismissal. The next day, on Saturday, Barty said ahead of her third-round clash with 29th seed Ekaterina Alexandrova,
“The bandage is huge, but that is more support so that the tape itself does not fall off. It is not a very subtle tape job. You often see it on a lot of the girls. The guys can hide it beneath their shorts a little bit better—just a little bit of support. I played many matches in the last ten days after not playing for 12 months, which is natural. It is more of assistance than anything else.”
While warming up for Tuesday’s Match, Barty said that,
“I first felt niggle. But, yeah, obviously, it is not affecting the way that I can play in any way. It is just more giving the leg some assistance to make sure it does not get to a point where it is going to affect me.”
Serena William was joined by Japanese powerhouse Naomi Osaka in the fourth after sweeping out Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur in straight sets. Osaka, the champion of 2019, will meet the finalist Garbiñe Murguruza of 2020, the first heavy and most exciting clash of the Open, with neither different major victor dropping a set on the way to the last 16 at Melbourne Park.
The fourteenth seed, Murguruza, swept out Zarina Diyas of Kazahkstan 6-1, 6-1 and has dropped just ten matches in all the tournament.
Sabalenka and Czech Markéta Vondroušová turned into the first tennis players through to the fourth round after making their opponents’ short work. The seventh seed, Sabalenka, was in control on Rod Laver Arena from the first serve, winning 6-3 and 6-1, while Vondrousova, the 19th ranked, had a 6-2, 6-4 victories over Romanian Sorana Cirstea.
Previously, Sabalenka has never made it past the third round at Melbourne Park and just reached the last 16 once at a grand slam tennis tournament, the United States Open in 2018.
If there are any chances that she comes into the tournament in stellar form, winning 18 out of 19 matches. A month ago, the slam hitting 22-year-old won the title of ‘WTA 500’ in Abu Dhabi, her third repeated title.
In 2019, the best performance of Vondrousova at the majors came at the French Open, when she was beaten in the final match by Barty. She had never made it past to the second round in Melbourne. The 21-year-old will play against either Italian Sara Errani or Hsieh Su-Wei of Taiwan in the fourth round.