Serena Williams has sent a scary warning to the rest of the Australian Open field with one of her "best performances in years" to storm into the semi-finals.
Serena equalled Roger Federer's record for most grand slam match victories on Tuesday night after powering past World No.2 Simona Halep to book her spot in a ninth semi-final at Melbourne Park.
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In their first meeting since Halep's demolition of Williams in the 2019 Wimbledon final, the American great rediscovered her top-form to exact revenge on the Romanian and triumph 6-3 6-3 on Rod Laver Arena.
The 39-year-old's victory on Tuesday night sets up a blockbuster last-four meeting with pre-tournament favourite and 2019 Open champion Naomi Osaka.
Williams turned back the clock to crush Halep in just 81 minutes to put her just two wins away from equalling Margaret Court's record of 24 grand slam titles.
She has lost four finals in pursuit of Court's momentous mark since winning her last major in 2017, which she achieved while pregnant.
The seven-time Australian Open champion has now won 362 matches at majors to equal Federer's record.
The vintage performance left tennis fans and commentators in awe.
Gotta be one Serena’s best performances in years.
— José Morgado (@josemorgado) February 16, 2021
Simona was so relentless but Serena was toooo brutal.
— Debolina Roy (@debolina_roy1) February 16, 2021
Serena has played extraordinarily well so far. Her serve is off the charts, her defense is insane, her power is too much. Can’t wait to see her battle Osaka…
— Young Daddy (@Toure) February 16, 2021
Serena is insane. Talk about athletic!!!! So happy for her 💗💗💗
— LIVE IN YOUR TRUTH. (@rhoskiiee) February 16, 2021
Serena sets up semi-final clash with Osaka
If Williams wins her 40th appearance in a grand slam semi-final, the mother-of-one could meet World No.1 Ashleigh Barty in Saturday night's decider with the Australian fancied to progress through her softer side of the draw.
The determined veteran, who has previously won all eight semi-finals at Melbourne Park, feels she is only improving the longer the Open goes.
"I definitely think this is the best match I've played this tournament," Williams said.
"I knew I couldn't play worse (than she did against Halep last time) so that was a good thing."
Williams will on Thursday battle Osaka, who ended the fairytale run of Taiwan's Hsieh Su-Wei with a demolition job in the quarter-finals, for a second time at a major.
Their first clash came in the 2018 US Open final, with Osaka winning 6-2 6-4 on Williams' home major court in New York.
In one of the more controversial women's finals, the pro-Williams crowd booed Osaka post-match for spoiling their hero's parade.
Williams' own behaviour during the match was highly criticised, after she called the umpire a "thief" among a series of unsavoury incidents.
"I think we both have had closure (from that match), and we have reached out to each other," Williams said of her relationship with Osaka.
"I think she's a great competitor and she's a cool cat.
"I've been watching her. I'm sure she's been watching me.
"I feel like this is such a good opportunity for me to keep doing my best at the first grand slam of the year.
"I had an incredibly long, arduous off-season so I'm really happy with every win I get."
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