Serena Williams is back in the Australian Open semi-finals. The American tennis legend navigated a dominant two-set win against world number two Simona Halep. With this win, she equals Roger Federer in Grand Slam wins – 362 overall.
Serena Williams, who is known for her incredible power – on her groundstrokes, on her serves and returns, has made incredible changes in her game this year. However, what has made the biggest difference is her defense. In this tournament, Williams has demonstrated better footwork and better overall physical condition – she is running a lot more, moving better around the court. This helps her play defense like she hasn’t during the last two or two-three years. In these matches, we see her willing to play longer points and not hurry to finish the point, like she used to do before. This causes fewer unforced errors and puts more pressure on her opponents. Against a player like Simona Halep, this proved to be crucial, since Serena managed to win a lot of the longer rallies by getting balls back and forcing Halep to attempt riskier shots.
In the interview after her match, she shared that her footwork and movement around the court have been the focus of her pre-season training for a few years now. Serena shared that during a conversation with her coach, they discussed what she could do better to achieve another Grand Slam win and settled on working on her physical condition and speed. After watching her play today, we can conclude that the work she put in is paying off. In the most important match of the tournament so far, she produced her best performance.
Naomi Osaka vs Serena Williams – a match made in tennis heaven
Serena Williams will face Naomi Osaka for a place in the final on Thursday. The match is poised to be the final before the final since it’s looked at as a match between the greatest ever and the up-and-coming heir of the women’s game. The last time the two faced each other was during the 2018 US Open final when Osaka won her first-ever Grand Slam title.
Since then, the Japanese has become the new star of women’s tennis and is largely seen as someone who can cement a legendary status – both on and off the court. On her on-court interview, Serena commented that she sees the match against Osaka as another chance to show her good game and produce another masterful performance. She gave praise to her younger opponent, calling her “inspirational” and admitting that she has been watching her matches.
For Serena Williams, this will be her 39th Grand Slam semi-final, putting her in third place on the all-time list. The only ones ahead of her are Chris Evert – 52 and Martina Navratilova – 44.