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Wednesday December 8th, 2021 11:22AM

The Latest: Halep advances to QF vs Williams in Australia

By The Associated Press
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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — The Latest on the Australian Open (all times local):

9:25 p.m.

Simona Halep has advanced to a quarterfinal match against Serena Williams at the Australian Open after beating French Open champion Iga Swiatek 3-6, 6-1, 6-4.

The No. 2-seeded Halep avenged a loss last year at Roland Garros, where Swiatek dropped just three games in their fourth-round match.

After accounting for the last remaining teenager in the draw, two-time major winner Halep will now meet one of the most experienced players on tour. Williams is aiming for a record-tying 24th Grand Slam singles title.

Halep lost the final at Melbourne Park in 2018 and reached the semifinals here last year.

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9:15 p.m.

U.S. Open finalist Alexander Zverev has beaten No. 23-seeded Dusan Lajovic 6-4, 7-6 (5), 6-3 to move into the quarterfinals of the Australian Open.

The sixth-seeded Zverev, a semifinalist in Australia last year, will next play the winner of Sunday's later match between top-ranked Novak Djokovic and No. 14 Milos Raonic.

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6:20 p.m.

Grigor Dimitrov beat third-seeded Dominic Thiem 6-4, 6-4, 6-0 to reach the quarterfinals of the Australian Open for the fourth time.

The No. 18-seeded Dimitrov was down a break in each of the first two sets but rallied to keep up the pressure on his tiring opponent.

Thiem won the U.S. Open and was the runner-up at the Australian Open last year, but he was coming off a tough third-round match when he had to rally from two sets down to beat local favorite Nick Kyrgios in five.

Dimitrov, who has a career-high ranking of No. 3, will next play 114-ranked Aslan Karatsev, who upset Felix Auger-Aliassime to become the first man since 1996 to reach the quarterfinals on his Grand Slam debut.

The 27-year-old Russian qualifier dropped the first two sets but lifted his level and cut down his error-rate to beat the 20th-seeded Auger-Aliassime in five.

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4:10 p.m.

Aslan Karatsev has beaten Felix Auger-Aliassime to become the first man since 1996 to reach the quarterfinals on his Grand Slam debut.

The 27-year-old Russian qualifier dropped the first two sets but lifted his level and cut down his error-rate to beat the 20th-seeded Auger-Aliassime 3-6, 1-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-4.

Not since Alex Radulescu at Wimbledon in 1996 has a player on debut reached the men’s quarterfinals at a Slam. He’s the first qualifier since Bernard Tomic at Wimbledon in 2011 to reach the last eight at a major.

The No. 114-ranked Karatsev said it took him two sets “to find a way how” to break down Auger-Aliassime's game.

He'll play either U.S. Open champion Dominic Thiem or Grigor Dimitrov next and he says he doesnt' have a preference.

He said: “I’ll be ready for anyone.”

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3:45 p.m.

Serena Williams has returned to the Australian Open quarterfinals by getting past No. 7 seed Aryna Sabalenka in three sets.

The 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 victory put Williams one step closer to her record-tying 24th Grand Slam title overall and eighth championship at Melbourne Park.

Her most recent major trophy came at the Australian Open in 2017.

This was Williams’ 62nd fourth-round match at a major tournament — and Sabalenka’s second.

They played a similar brand of powerful tennis but Williams was barely better, stealing the last two games after what had been a 4-1 lead in the final set evaporated.

The 39-year-old American next faces either Simona Halep or Iga Swiatek.

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3:05 p.m.

Serena Williams has been pushed to a third set by No. 7 seed Aryna Sabalenka at the Australian Open with a quarterfinal berth on the line.

Williams took the opening set 6-4, but Sabalenka broke serve three times in a row in the second to grab it by a 6-2 score.

Williams is trying to get closer to her 24th Grand Slam singles title and eighth at Melbourne Park.

Sabalenka has never made it past the fourth round at a major tournament.

The winner will face either Simona Halep or Iga Swiatek.

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1:10 p.m.

Naomi Osaka fought off two match points and came back to eliminate Garbiñe Muguruza in a big-hitting fourth-round matchup of Grand Slam champions at the Australian Open.

The third-seeded Osaka grabbed the last four games to win 4-6, 6-4, 7-5 in Rod Laver Arena.

That result puts her back in the quarterfinals of a tournament she won in 2019 for one of her three major trophies.

Osaka was serving at 15-40 while trailing 5-3 in the final set. But Muguruza could not convert either of those match points and wouldn’t win another game.

Osaka now faces unseeded 35-year-old Hsie Su-wei of Taiwain with a semifinal berth at stake.

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12:25 p.m.

Unseeded Hsieh Su-wei has reached her first career Grand Slam quarterfinal at age 35.

Hsieh's 6-4, 6-2 victory over 2019 French Open finalist Marketa Vondrousova made her the oldest woman to make her major quarterfinal debut in the professional era.

This is Hsieh's 38th main-draw appearance at a major tournament.

The 19th-seeded Vondrousova made 31 unforced errors, 13 more than Hsieh.

Hsieh is ranked 71st and plays with an unusual style that includes two-handed shots off both sides.

She beat 2019 U.S. Open champion Bianca Andreescu in the second round at Melbourne Park.

Next up for Hsieh will be the winner of the fourth-round match between Naomi Osaka and Garbiñe Muguruza.

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11 a.m.

Novak Djokovic — if he is healthy enough to play — and Serena Williams headline Day 7 as the fourth round of the Australian Open gets started.

There will not be any spectators in the stands because of a five-day lockdown imposed by the government in reaction to new COVID-19 cases in the area.

The first quarterfinal berths will be at stake with four women's matches and four men's matches on the singles schedule Sunday (Saturday EST).

Williams continues her quest for a record-tying 24th Grand Slam singles title when she plays No. 7 seed Aryna Sabalenka in the second match at Rod Laver Arena.

That will follow the matchup between three-time major champion Naomi Osaka and two-time Slam trophy winner Garbiñe Muguruza.

Two other Grand Slam champions, Simona Halep and Iga Swiatek, will open the night session in Laver.

Their match is to be followed by eight-time Australian Open champion Djokovic against 2016 Wimbledon finalist Milos Raonic — assuming Djokovic decides he can play.

The No. 1-ranked Serb hurt a stomach muscle when he fell during his fourth-round victory over Taylor Fritz and skipped practice on Saturday.

Other men in action include reigning U.S. Open champion Dominic Thiem and the man he beat in that final, Alexander Zverev.

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More AP tennis: https://apnews.com/hub/tennis and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Sports, AP Online Tennis, AP Sports - Men's Tennis, AP Sports - Women's Tennis
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