Australian Open: Serena battles through ankle and business worries in Melbourne

By Sports Desk February 14, 2021

Serena Williams calmed injured fears after coming through a thrilling back-and-forth against Arnya Sabalenka to reach the quarter-finals of the Australian Open.

Williams, who is pursuing a record-equalling 24th career grand slam and her first major victory in four years, prevailed 6-4 2-6 6-4 after more than two hours on court against seventh seed Sabalenka.

Her struggles during the second set appeared partly attributable to a fall but Williams recovered her poise and the 39-year-old does not expect any ill-effects in a last-eight showdown against either Simona Halep or Iga Swiatek.

"I don't think so. It didn't hurt at all. I didn't roll my ankle, so that was good," she told reporters.

"Yeah, I think it was just dramatic, me being dramatic.

"My first thought was, 'Not another ankle sprain in Australia'. But I knew immediately that it wasn't.

"Then I was more embarrassed than anything. I was like, 'Oh, my goodness'."

Williams moved well throughout the contest, assuaging any lingering concerns over Achilles problems that have dogged her of late - even manging to rally when Sabalenka reeled off three consecutive games from 1-4 down in the decider.

"I've worked really hard on my movement. Yeah, I like retrieving balls. I mean, obviously I like to be on the offense, but I can play defence really well, as well.

"I do get a lot of balls back when I need to. I didn't think about my Achilles. It's so good to not think about it. Oh, my goodness. It's been a problem actually since 2018.

"I just never want that problem again. It feels really good to just play and to run, to not feel that. It's a great relief."

Arguably Williams' greatest inconvenience around the match was not a physical one, after she had to participate in a Saturday conference call to avert an "emergency" at her clothing business.

"Tennis is a lot less stressful. I don't have to manage a team. I do manage a team actually, but it's different," she chuckled. "Even though I am the CEO of my tennis team, it's definitely different.

"I think a part of me loves being on the court because it's free-flowing. It's not like I have to kind of just manage and make sure everyone is able to perform.

"I have a second career and it's fun. One of our main players, our employees, had an emergency. You got to step it up when you got to step it up.

"I was smart about that. I scheduled a call directly after my practice. I was like, 'Okay, I can do it early and still have the rest of the day to relax'.

"And it was during [Williams' daughter] Olympia's nap, so it was perfect."

Related items

  • Australian Open: Barty hails 'inspiration' Alcott Australian Open: Barty hails 'inspiration' Alcott

    Ash Barty paid tribute to Dylan Alcott after the wheelchair tennis player ended his glittering career with defeat in the Australian Open final.

    Alcott, who is the only man to complete a 'golden slam' in quad singles, and has won 23 major titles in total, is retiring at the age of 31.

    He lost 7-5 6-0 to Sam Schroder in the final match of his career, as his bid for an eighth straight Australian Open title fell just short.

    Alcott, who has been named Australian of the Year, won all four grand slams last year and also took gold in the Paralympic Games, defending his title from 2016.

    His run to yet another final in Melbourne has been a remarkable story, and Barty – the WTA world number one who reached the women's singles final by beating Madison Keys in straight sets on Thursday – hailed her inspirational compatriot.

    "Dylan for me is at the forefront of that, he has inspired a nation, inspired the whole globe," said Barty when asked about the success Australians are enjoying at the season's opening grand slam.

    "We were watching his match today. I was with my physio and when he was giving his acceptance speech, we were both crying.

    "I was like, I need to get out there and get ready, get my game on, but to watch Dylan and for him be able to share that moment with so many people here...

    "The way that he and the Australian Open have opened up the opportunities for more disabled people all around the world to play tennis and have a go is just exceptional, I couldn't be more proud of him."

    Barty and Alcott are just part of an impressive 2022 tournament for home favourites. Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis will face countrymen Matthew Ebden and Max Purcell in the men's doubles final, while Jason Kubler and Jaimee Fourlis are into the mixed doubles final.

    "Unreal, honestly it's just incredible," said Barty on becoming the first Australian to reach the women's singles final since 1980. "I love coming out here and playing in the Australian Open.

    "As an Aussie, we're exceptionally spoilt that we're a grand slam nation and get to play at home, in our back yard. I'm just happy that I get to play my best tennis here. I enjoy it, I've played well before and now I have the chance to play for a title. It's unreal."

  • Australian Open: Barty moves into final as fairy tale remains alive in Melbourne Australian Open: Barty moves into final as fairy tale remains alive in Melbourne

    Ash Barty continued her fairy-tale run at the Australian Open, crushing Madison Keys to become the first local woman to reach the singles final in 42 years.

    The two-time grand slam champion continued her impressive form at Melbourne Park with a 6-1 6-3 victory over Keys on Rod Laver Arena on Thursday.

    Barty, the world number one, became the first Australian woman to reach the singles final at the tournament since Wendy Turnbull in 1980.

    She can become the first to win the title since Chris O'Neil in 1978 when she faces either Danielle Collins or Iga Swiatek in Saturday's final, which she will undoubtedly start as favourite.

    Barty has dropped just 21 games on her way to the decider and the reigning Wimbledon champion was again ruthless against Keys, who lost her fourth grand slam semi-final in five such appearances.

    The 25-year-old Barty settled well and broke the Keys serve in the opening game.

    A powerful forehand created the opportunity before she delivered a cross-court winner off that wing to convert following a Keys drop shot.

    Barty only made two first serves in her opening two service games yet did not lose a point.

    Spurred on by a hopeful and enthusiastic home crowd, Barty's variety and depth – plus nine unforced errors in five games from Keys – helped her race into a 4-1 lead.

    Keys finally won a point against the Barty serve in the sixth game, the Australian forced to save a break point before sealing the opening set in 26 minutes courtesy of a forehand return winner down the line.

    The first real signs of nerves from Barty came in the fifth game of the second set, but she dug out a tough hold for 3-2.

    Keys had settled, but Barty grabbed the break she was after in the sixth game with back-to-back forehand winners.

    Barty looked calm throughout and that did not change as she served out the match in style, booking a spot in the final with a forehand winner.

    DATA SLAM: Brilliant Barty on verge of ending Aussie wait

    Barty has already ended one long wait – an Australian reaching the women's singles final at Melbourne Park.

    She is a win away from ending another by becoming the first Australian winner of the men's or women's singles title in 44 years.

    WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
    Barty – 20/13
    Keys – 8/24

    ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
    Barty – 5/0
    Keys – 1/1

    BREAK POINTS WON
    Barty – 4/6
    Keys – 0/2

  • Australian Open: Kyrgios, Kokkinakis continue dream run to reach final Australian Open: Kyrgios, Kokkinakis continue dream run to reach final

    Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis' dream run in the Australian Open men's doubles continued, reaching the final on Thursday.

    Kyrgios and Kokkinakis stunned third seeds Horacio Zeballos and Marcel Granollers 7-6 (7-4) 6-4 in their semi-final on Rod Laver Arena.

    The talented duo have beaten four seeded pairs on their way to the decider, where Australians Matt Ebden and Max Purcell await.

    For the first time since 1980, it will be an all-Australian final in the men's doubles at the year's opening grand slam.

    Dubbed the 'Special Ks', the pair took a tough first-set tie-break before being pulled back after leading the second set 4-1.

    But Kyrgios and Kokkinakis sealed their win when the latter delivered a wonderful lob, sparking their celebrations in front of a strong Rod Laver Arena crowd.

    Ebden and Purcell upset second seeds Joe Salisbury and Rajeev Ram 6-3 7-6 (11-9) in the other semi-final.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.