Melbourne: Serena Williams fended off a stern challenge from a spirited opponent, as the 10th-seeded American outlasted No.7 seed Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 to book her spot in the Australian Open quarterfinals.
Fireworks were on display as the two powerful hitters and Top 10 seeds jockeyed for a spot in the last eight of the year’s first major, and it was Williams who ultimately advanced after two hours and nine minutes, denying Sabalenka the first Grand Slam quarterfinal showing of her career.
It will be former World No.1 Williams whose quests for a staggering eighth Australian Open title and a historic 24th Grand Slam title continue, as she fired 30 winners, including nine aces, to quell the charge from Sabalenka.
Sabalenka had won 18 of her last 19 matches but it is Williams who moves into the quarterfinals in Melbourne for the 13th time in her career.
Another big name awaits Williams in the quarters, as she will now face either two-time Grand Slam champion Simona Halep or reigning Roland Garros champion Iga Swiatek.
2019 champion Naomi Osaka is still alive at the Australian Open.
The No.3 seed saved two match points to overcome two-time Grand Slam champion Garbiñe Muguruza in Sunday’s fourth round, 4-6, 6-4, 7-5, to reach the quarterfinals Down Under for the second time in the past three years.