How it happened: Serena overpowers Halep, sets AO semifinal with Osaka

How it happened: Serena overpowers Halep, sets AO semifinal with Osaka

Meeting the Romanian for the first time since losing the 2019 Wimbledon final, Serena Williams defeated Simona Halep, 6-3, 6-3, in the quarterfinals of the 2021 Australian Open on Tuesday.

On Tuesday night in Melbourne, Serena Williams powered her way past Simona Halep, 6-3, 6-3, to defeat the world No. 2 for the 10th time in 12 meetings. For a place in Saturday's Australian Open final, Serena meets the day's first winner, third-ranked Naomi Osaka. 

Our live blog below details how Serena navigated her 81-minute win against Halep to move into her 40th career major semifinal.

Serena responds to press about movement, Osaka

Halep addresses media in defeat

Serena reacts to win with Courier

A few sound bites from Serena's on-court interview with Jim Courier.

On making adjustments: "I just realized I was making a lot of unforced errors on those games that I lost. I knew I had an opportunity to play better. I was like, 'just stay in there, you can keep going.' And that's what I just did."

On how this contest compared to previous ones this fortnight: "I definitely think this was the best match I've played this tournament, for sure. Obviously I had to going up against No. 2 in the world. I knew I had to do better and that's what I did. I'm excited."

On Naomi Osaka: "She's such a strong player on the court. And such an inspiration person off the court, which I think is really cool. I've been watching her and I'm sure she's been watching me. I feel like this is such a good opportunity for me to keep doing my best."

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Serena advances, 6-3, 6-3

8:37 p.m.—SERENA wins! What a statement win, and it's only going to get tougher from here. Serena, who is 8-0 lifetime in semifinals at the Happy Slam, will take on Naomi Osaka for a shot at raising major trophy No. 24 on Saturday.

8:33 p.m.—One game to go for Serena. After that last game, there wasn't a better time for a clutch hold at love.

8:30 p.m.—Serena presses for hard-fought break, up 4-3. Three unforced errors saw the seven-time AO winner miss a 0-40 opportunity. Halep saved a fourth break point with a splendid forehand pass, and later a fifth. But Serena battled to take a 20-shot exchange and capitalized on her sixth chance with another strong defensive stance.

8:23 p.m.—The run of breaks is over. Serena levels for 3-3 and the pressure shifts back to Halep's racquet.

8:18 p.m.—The answer is no. Serena breaks. Halep must change her patterns on second serve. The American is red-lining everything directed to her forehand, especially in the deuce court.

8:14 p.m.—A third consecutive break. Thanks to some terrific depth, especially on her forehand, Halep regains her advantage. Can she back it up for 4-1?

8:10 p.m.—Serena recovers, to serve at 1-2. Another ripped forehand return winner on a short second serve set up break point, and Serena followed it up by outlasting Halep in a 16-shot rally.

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8:07 p.m.—A 2-0 lead for Simo. Two unforced errors and a double fault put Serena in a 0-40 hold. On her second break point chance, Halep converted when the 23-time major champion overplayed a forehand volley, her 10th unforced error of the set.

8:02 p.m.—Halep hangs on. A tense 12-point game goes the Romanian's way, as she fights through to begin the second set with a crucial hold.

Serena wins first set, 6-3

7:53 p.m.—A love hold to end set one. After Halep held without conceding a point, Serena followed suit to wrap up an impressive opening set. Serena hit 14 winners to 13 unforced errors and was nearly untouchable on her first serve at 13 of 15 points won. She's the one controlling the pulse out on Rod Laver Arena. Halep will have to execute one her best skills, the ability to adapt, if this is going to change in set two.

7:48 p.m.—Serena a game from opening a one-set lead. Her ball-striking is simply too good right now, leaving Halep with little time on the baseline. In points beginning with Serena's serve, she's won eight of 11 in rallies lasting four shots or fewer.

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7:44 p.m.—Halep had two game points but Serena breaks for 4-2. Halep fought off one break point with a terrific 1-2 combo. After hitting a second serve on her second break point, Halep thought her backhand retrieval was in. There's no challenging an electronic line call, however.

The American will now step to the line looking to change her second serve success, having won two of eight points thus far.

7:33 p.m.—Back on serve, 2-2. A forehand struck well long elicited an 'aye yai yai' from Serena, who was unable to consolidate. Halep held without much resistance this time around.

7:25 p.m.—Serena strikes first for 2-0. The No. 10 seed ended the opening game with an ace out wide. On her first return point, Serena hammered a second-serve forehand winner. Halep tried to extend rallies, but the American's ability to punish anything short was rewarded with an immediate break.

Halep-Serena playing for shot to face Osaka

With Naomi Osaka waiting in the wings, who will join her for a semifinal showdown? 

Serena leads Halep 9-2 in their head-to-head series. But, in their last meeting, Halep stunned the American with a spellbinding performance to capture her second major title at Wimbledon.

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In both of her wins, Halep ran away to the finish line. While Serena has posted her fair share of dominant victories against the Romanian, her wins in majors have all gone three sets, including two years ago in the round of 16 at Melbourne Park when Halep was ranked No. 1.

Both picked up valuable three-set tests in their previous matches, with Serena hitting past Aryna Sabalenka and Halep avenging her Roland Garros loss to Iga Swiatek.