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Williams to face ‘incredible’ Osaka after win over Halep

Serena Williams said she aimed to keep lifting her level after she stepped up a gear to destroy Simona Halep and set up an Australian…

Serena Williams said she aimed to keep lifting her level after she stepped up a gear to destroy Simona Halep and set up an Australian Open semi-final with an “incredible” Naomi Osaka on Tuesday.

The seven-time champion, in her 20th Australian Open and 77th Grand Slam, raised her intensity and accuracy to beat the Romanian second seed 6-3, 6-3 on Rod Laver Arena.

“Definitely think this is the best match I have played this tournament, for sure,” said 10th seed Williams, who is another step closer to a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title.

“Obviously I had to be going up against the number two in the world, so I knew I had to do better, and that’s what I did and I’m excited.”

The 39-year-old, 23-time major winner has lost four Slam finals while chasing Margaret Court’s all-time mark since her last major victory at Melbourne Park in 2017 while pregnant.

Japan’s Osaka stands between Williams and a place in another decider after the third seed crushed Taiwanese veteran Hsieh Su-wei 6-2, 6-2.

“I feel good. I feel like, you know, I’m here and I’m happy to be here,” said the veteran, after reaching her 40th Grand Slam semi-final.

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