Australian Open: Simona Halep not intimidated by Serena Williams anymore

Serena Williams consoles Ukraine's Dayana Yastremska after winning their third round match at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne

Serena Williams consoles Ukraine's Dayana Yastremska after winning their third round match at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne

World number one Simona Halep said she does not feel intimidated by the prospect of facing Serena Williams and will relish the opportunity of taking on the 23-times Grand Slam champion at Melbourne Park on Monday.

The six-time Australian Open champion claimed the opening two sets 6-3, 6-4 against Canada's Denis Shapovalov, before expressing irritation at a decision to turn on floodlights on the court. Other men's seeds of note are No. 4 Alexander Zverev and No. 8 Kei Nishikori, while Venus Williams plays 25th-seeded Mihaela Buzarnescu. "Don't cry. You're so young". Then they embraced, and Williams patted Yastremska on the back.

"As she was walking towards the net, I could tell she was quite upset", Williams told reporters. "I kind of liked that, you know". Halep wins most of her matches defensively and getting the best of long rallies, but Serena counters that with her power and hitting winners that can't be returned. "Young girls, young women, just want to go out there and do their best and want to win". "That really broke my heart", Williams said.

"I'm such a fighter I just never give up. It's good to see that attitude".

Having dropped a miserly nine games in her first three victories against Tatjana Maria, Eugenie Bouchard and Yastremska, Williams will play either older sister Venus or world No.1 Simona Halep in the round of 16 on Monday. Another Halep break courtesy of a Williams forehand error put the first set on the Romanian's racquet and she served it out after 39 minutes.

"I have nothing to lose", Halep declared. "It's going to be a bigger challenge but I'm ready to face it", Halep said in a measured response. But she played a great match.

Might Venus offer her sibling any tips?

"It will be great", said Serena.

Unlike any of Serena's foes until now, Halep has won a major title, last year's French Open.

So far, Williams has sailed through the Australian Open as she chases her 24th Grand Slam title, but her fourth-round opponent will be slightly stiffer competition.

That resume pales in comparison to Serena's, of course.

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Djokovic, with 14 Grand Slams to his credit is gunning for a record seventh Australian title.

She added: "Definitely [this] is the toughest draw I've ever had". I haven't played the world number one since I've been back, I don't think.

Her opponent in the round of 16 will be Latvian No.13 seed Anastasija Sevastova, who beat China's Wang Qiang 6-3 6-3.

"I love to play this court, I'm very comfortable here", said the 2014 US Open finalist after delighting a large contingent of Japanese fans.

Williams took a step back from tennis when she had daughter Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr with husband Alexis Ohanian, the co-founder of Reddit, in September 2017.

But she looked headed for the exit when she conceded the first set and was down 4-1 in the second, before winning five straight games to force a decider.

Will Serena make it win number nine?

Yastremska was not even born when the American won her first major at Flushing Meadows in 1999.

Yastremska recalls swinging her racket in the living room at home while watching on TV aged eight as her favourite player competed.

Surely, everything felt a tad different up-close-and-personal with the 37-year-old American in Rod Laver Arena.

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