Serena Williams Avoids Upset to Reach Australian Quarters

Top-seeded Serena Williams advanced to the Australian Open quarterfinals by coming back for a three-set victory against Garbine Muguruza, the Spaniard who upset her at last year’s French Open.

Williams, 33, whose No. 1 world ranking is on the line at the season’s first Grand Slam tennis tournament, won 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 against the 24th-seeded Muguruza.

The previous time they played, Muguruza defeated Williams 6-2, 6-2 in the second round in Paris.

“I was making a lot of errors and maybe I was just hitting a little bit too much to her,” Williams said of the opening set. “I just had to figure out: What am I doing, what is she doing, what can I do better?”

Muguruza held serve in the opening game of the deciding set and then had six break points on Williams’s serve -- but could not convert on any of them. Williams won six of the final seven games in the match to avoid the upset.

Williams, a five-time Australian Open champion who has won 18 Grand Slam singles titles, has $63.5 million in career prize money while Muguruza has earned $1.7 million.

Muguruza, 21, was seeking her 200th career win and was bidding to become the fifth player to defeat Williams more than once at a Grand Slam. The only women who have done that are Serena’s sister, Venus Williams; Jennifer Capriati; Justine Henin, and Samantha Stosur.

Second-ranked Maria Sharapova of Russia and No. 3 Simona Halep of Romania both are in position to take over the No. 1 ranking in Melbourne if they can go a round further than Serena Williams -- who has been in the top spot for 101 consecutive weeks.

Cibulkova Next

Williams next will play Dominika Cibulkova, a finalist at the Australian Open last year who moved into the quarterfinals today by defeating two-time champion Victoria Azarenka.

Cibulkova, the 11th seed from Slovakia, won 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 against the unseeded Azarenka, from Belarus, who has fallen to 44th in the world after injuries and illness sidelined her for much of 2014.

Venus Williams, the 18th seed, plays sixth-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland tonight for a spot in the quarterfinals and the final women’s fourth-round match is an all-American affair between Madison Keys and Madison Brengle.

Men’s top seed Novak Djokovic of Serbia plays tonight against Gilles Muller of Luxembourg. Defending champion Stan Wawrinka, the men’s fourth seed, was playing Spain’s Guillermo Garcia-Lopez.

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