Having sailed into the fourth round at Melbourne Park without breaking much of a sweat, Serena Williams will face her first real test as she squares up against the in-form Aryna Sabalenka in the pre-quarters on Sunday.
Bidding for the Australian Open crown and a record career haul of 24 Grand Slam titles that will help her equal the legendary Margaret Court’s feat, Serena has looked virtually unstoppable on her way to the fourth round.
Both Williams and Aryna Sabalenka in blazing form going into their Round-4 clash at the Australian Open
However, so has the Belarussian as she stormed into the fourth round with commanding straight-set wins in her previous group stage fixtures.
What will make for a salivating contest on Sunday is the fact that both players dish out a similar aggressive brand of tennis, sending down powerful serves and shooting fireballs off the handle from the baseline.
There will also be occasional forays into the net as they try to close out points with a powerful smash or volley.
While it’s a pity that the match will be robbed of spectators, with the city going under a surprise five-day lockdown, what is assured is that the 39-year-old American and her Belarussian rival will certainly dig deep to get the better of each other.
Serena Williams and Aryna Sabalenka have never played each other before
Making this fourth-round clash even more intriguing is the fact that the two have never played each other before and will go into the battle unfamiliar with what the other might have up her sleeve.
Currently ranked 11th by the WTA, Serena has made her intent known with her dominating performances in the previous matches.
Though she didn’t have much trouble imposing herself on her opponents in the opening two rounds, the American was pushed hard in the opening set of her third-round showdown against Russian Alexandra Potapova.
However, as she has done so often in her career, Serena found a way to wriggle out of tight corners before bringing her signature power game to the fore to blaze into the pre-quarters at the Australian Open.
Sabalenka, who followed up her back-to-back title wins at Ostrava and Linz last year with the championship victory at the Abu Dhabi WTA, has also looked in top form and will go into the Serena clash with a slight edge, given her superior ranking and youth.
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