Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Serena sizzles after Barty, Kenin script hard-fought wins

 Serena Williams sounded a warning for her fellow Australian Open contenders on Wednesday with a sleek 6-1 6-4 victory against Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova to reach the quarter-finals of the Yarra Valley Classic in Melbourne.


After top two seeds Ash Barty and Sofia Kenin faced steep challenges to keep their preparations on course, Williams put up a contrasting show at Melbourne Park's Margaret Court Arena in the evening session.

World number one Barty, who won 6-0 4-6 6-3, showed no signs of fatigue from having played a late match on Tuesday and started in top gear against Marie Bouzkova at the Margaret Court Arena before her Czech opponent staged a fightback.

Australian Open champion Kenin, seeded second, appeared headed for an exit against fellow American Jessica Pegula when she fell 3-0 back after losing the first set but the feisty 22-year-old found her range and rallied for a 5-7 7-5 6-2 win.

Williams, a 23-times Grand Slam winner and a seven-time Australian Open champion, moved well, looked composed and mixed power with poise against Pironkova, who had won a set off her during last year's U.S. Open quarter-finals.

The 39-year-old American did not allow her a foothold in Wednesday's match and hit 25 winners against the seven managed by Pironkova, who like Williams returned to professional tennis after becoming a mother.

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