Tuesday, 16 February 2021 14:35

Staff Reporter.

Photo Credit: Getty Images.

Serena Williams produced a stunning performance to beat second seed Simona Halep and set up an Australian Open semi-final with Naomi Osaka.

The 39-year-old American, bidding for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title, won 6-3 6-3 against the Romanian.

"I think this is the best match I've played this tournament," said Williams, who moved well and hit 24 winners.

Earlier on Tuesday, Osaka cruised past Hsieh Su-wei in just 66 minutes to reach the last four.

The Japanese third seed, who won the second of her three Grand Slam titles at Melbourne Park in 2019, beat the Taiwanese 6-2 6-2.

Now Osaka will face 10th seed Williams - a seven-time champion in Melbourne - on Thursday for a place in Saturday's final.

It will the first meeting between the pair since their infamous 2018 US Open Final.

That saw Osaka win her maiden major title after Williams accused umpire Carlos Ramos of being a "thief" in some of the most dramatic scenes at a Grand Slam final.

After her victory, Osaka said she would be tuning in to the match between Williams and Halep because she "always" watched the American's games.

What Osaka will have seen is a player who looks fitter and more focused than she has in recent years. And, on this evidence against reigning Wimbledon champion Halep, will surely offer a stern examination of the Japanese player's credentials as the tournament favourite.

Williams has lost her past four Grand Slam finals - including the 2018 US Open to Osaka and against Halep at Wimbledon in 2019 - as she attempted to land that elusive 24th major title which would pull her level with Australian Margaret Court.