UPDATE: Serena has withdrawn from the event ahead of her semifinal clash with Ash Barty, citing a right-shoulder injury. With a walkover into the final, the Aussie now awaits the winner of the Garbine Muguruza-Marketa Vondrousova match.
Serena Williams continued her strong play in 2021 by securing a semifinal spot at the Yarra Valley Classic in Melbourne. The 23-time Grand Slam champion proved tough to beat with a 6-2, 4-6, [10-6] victory over fellow American Danielle Collins on Thursday.
In their first-ever encounter, Serena breezed through the opening set, giving back just one of her three breaks of serve. The No. 13 seed retaliated by earning a her own break half-way through the second, which proved enough for her to level the set and send the match to a deciding match tie-break. Due to a positive COVID-19 case that forced a match blackout on Thursday, the scoring format has been temporarily amended to replace a final set with the 10-point super tie-breaker.
In that decider, Serena got on the front foot again to shut out the in-form Collins, who had stunned the No. 3 seed Karolina Pliskova in the previous round.
"I felt good to get through that in the tie-break," Serena said in her on-court interview after the win. "It's definitely different, and Danielle plays so well in both Melbourne and around the world. She's such a good player so I knew today wouldn't be easy, so I'm glad to get through it."
The No. 5 seed next meets world No. 1 Ashleigh Barty, who battled past Shelby Rogers earlier on Friday.
“It’s always nice to test the legs and get into those tougher matches obviously,” Barty said. “You know what you're going to get and you know that you’re going to have to produce your best tennis over a long period of time, so I think that was the challenge today to make sure that I didn’t just bundle up like a bag of spuds and lose what was happening.”