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The Latest: Williams-Osaka Australian Open SF gets started

By The Associated Press
Posted 10:21PM on Wednesday 17th February 2021 ( 4 months ago )

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

2:15 p.m.

Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka have started their showdown in the Australian Open semifinals.

There are fans in the stands at Rod Laver Arena after the end of a local five-day COVID-19 lockdown that banned all spectators at the tournament.

Williams is hoping to get closer to what would be a record-tying 24th Grand Slam singles trophy.

Osaka is eyeing her fourth major championship. One came via a victory over Williams in the 2018 U.S. Open final.

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1:30 p.m.

Serena Williams will try to take another step toward a record-tying 24th Grand Slam singles title when she faces Naomi Osaka in the Australian Open semifinals.

The players are scheduled to be on court in about a half-hour at Rod Laver Arena.

Spectators are allowed back at Melbourne Park on Thursday (Wednesday night EST) after being banned for five days during a local COVID-19 lockdown.

The 39-year-old Williams already owns 23 major singles trophies, one away from Margaret Court's record for the most in tennis history.

Williams' most recent Grand Slam title came at the 2017 Australian Open, while she was pregnant. Since returning to competition after her daughter was born, Williams has reached four major finals and lost each.

One of those defeats came against Osaka at the 2018 U.S. Open. The 23-year-old Osaka also won last year's U.S. Open and the 2019 Australian Open.

The other women's semifinal is No. 22 Jennifer Brady of the United States against No. 25 Karolina Muchova of the Czech Republic.

One men's semifinal is on the schedule: No. 1 Novak Djokovic vs. Aslan Karatsev, a qualifier from Russia who is ranked 114th and playing in his first Grand Slam tournament.

Djokovic is seeking a ninth Australian Open title and 18th Grand Slam trophy overall.

Rafael Nadal — who lost in the quarterfinals to Stefanos Tsitsipas — and Roger Federer are tied for the men's record of 20.

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

United States' Serena Williams celebrates after defeating Romania's Simona Halep during their quarterfinal match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2021.(AP Photo/Hamish Blair)
Japan's Naomi Osaka reacts after defeating Taiwan's Hsieh Su-wei in their quarterfinal match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2021.(AP Photo/Hamish Blair)

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