Serena Williams stayed on track for a record-tying 24th Grand Slam title, advancing to the Australian Open semifinals with a 6-3, 6-3 victory against Simona Halep on Tuesday.
Next up for Williams is Naomi Osaka. Osaka, ranked No. 3 in the world, rode a big first serve to a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Hsieh Su-wei, who became the oldest woman at 35 to make her Grand Slam quarterfinal debut.
Williams won the last five games, beating Halep despite 33 unforced errors. Although no fans were allowed inside Rod Laver Arena, Williams was cheered on by husband Alexis Ohanian and sister Venus Williams in the stands.
“I definitely think this is the best match I’ve played this tournament for sure,” Williams said. “Obviously I had to, going up against number 2 in the world. I knew that I had to do better, and that’s what I did.”
Williams seeks her 24th Grand Slam singles title, which would tie the all-time record held by Margaret Court. No. 23 came at the Australian Open in 2017, where Williams prevailed in a 6-4, 6-4 final against big sister Venus. She is a seven-time Australian Open champion, with her first title in Melbourne coming in 2003.
At 39, Williams is chasing her 11th Grand Slam singles title since turning 30.
Halep, ranked No. 2 in the world, is a two-time major champion who reached the semifinals at the Australian Open last year, losing to Garbine Muguruza.