Serena Williams and her pursuit of an elusive 24th major title will go on further into 2020 after she was stunned in three sets by Chinese No. 1 Wang Qiang at the Australian Open on Friday.
Coming into the Australian Open on the back of winning her first title in three years in Auckland a little over a week ago, Serena appeared to be in ominous form – but nobody told Wang, with the 27th seed producing a masterclass in absorbing and redirecting pace to pull off the greatest victory of her career, 6-4 6-7(2) 7-5.
The pair met just a few months ago in the U.S. Open quarter-finals and it was Serena who stormed to victory, losing just 15 points in a 6-1 6-0 demolition. However, Wang showed the world just how good she really is on Friday at Melbourne Park, firing 25 winners to just 20 unforced errors in a remarkably clean match.
The moment of a LIFETIME!
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 24, 2020
Serena, on the other hand, was undone by a whopping 56 unforced errors, and while the American managed to blast 43 winners, she just wasn’t able to find a way past Wang when it mattered most.
It appeared as if Serena was about to produce another trademark comeback after recovering from a break down in the second set as Wang served for the match, ultimately scraping out the set in a tiebreak, but the Chinese star regrouped magnificently in the decider, repeatedly keeping calm under pressure as she pounced at the death, breaking Williams for the win.
“I believed I could do it,” Wang said in her on-court interview.
“During the second set I was really confused, but I had to be calm. I was a little bit confused inside but my mind told me that I had to focus on the court and I had to trust myself.”
Wang advances into the second week of a slam for just the second time in her career, but for the second successive major after reaching the quarter-finals at the U.S. Open in 2019.
The 28-year-old meets Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur for a spot in the last eight after she ended Caroline Wozniacki’s career moments earlier on Friday.
Meanwhile, Serena’s bid to equal Margaret Court’s all-time major singles record of 24 continues, with the 38-year-old admitting this defeat was hard to swallow.
The legendary American has lost in four slam finals since winning the 2017 Australian Open and returning to tour as a mother.
“Yeah, I am just a better actress, as I always say now. I’m no happier than I was 10 years ago,” Serena said when asked how she handles these types of losses.
“But I just have to pretend like I don’t want to punch the wall, but in reality I do.”