Dayana Yastremska of Ukraine shows her emotion after losing her third round match against Serena Williams of the United States during day six of the 2019 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 19, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia.
However, Halep - whose 2018 season was cut short thanks to a back injury - looked to be on better form on Saturday as she broke in the fifth game and again in the seventh to win the first set 6-2.
It's happened a few times here in Melbourne, and after her third-round 6-2, 6-1 win against 18-year-old Dayana Yastremska on Saturday afternoon, microphones caught Williams attempting to cheer the young Ukrainian, who was in tears. While Serena has yet to face a true challenge at this tournament, Halep couldn't have asked for a better pre-Serena tuneup than to play her older sister, the woman Serena credits with honing her game and competitive drive, and with whom she shares a similar game.
"When I was young I played against so many people like Lindsay Davenport, Martina Hingis and Monica Seles. everyone I faced was in the hall of fame".
Victory sets up a 10th meeting with Williams and first since the 2016 US Open, when the American recorded a fourth successive win over Halep. Later on, the champion while talking about the incident to BBC, said, "I thought she did really awesome".
'I'm going to apologise, ' she sighed. "It's good to see that attitude", she added.
Williams told Yastremska as much in the locker room afterward. "I will play against a great champion and I have nothing to lose", said Halep after beating the elder Williams in a match lasting one and 16 minutes.
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"Just that it's going to be a huge challenge for me". She wanted to win.
The 37-year-old continued her impressive passage through the draw with an emphatic 6-2 6-1 victory over the 18-year-old Ukrainian, who was not born when Williams won her first Grand Slam singles title in 1999. She made the final in 2017 when she lost to Serena. 'I thought it was completely unnecessary, ' said the world No 1.
In her postmatch news conference, Halep talked about experiencing a mindset shift during the offseason, when she began to own her place at the top of the world rankings. I feel confident. I played very well today.
Speaking prior to her sister's outing, Williams understandably said she was rooting for Venus but would relish a matchup against Halep.
"I will not put pressure on myself", she said. I think either way, regardless, I'll be ready for either opponent.
Further afield if Williams prevails, potentially, are players who have downed Williams at grand slams, Garbine Muguruza, Karolina Pliskova and Naomi Osaka.