Serena Williams takes Australian QF to 3rd set

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(190121) -- MELBOURNE, Jan. 21, 2019 (Xinhua) -- Serena Williams serves during the women's singles 4th round match between Serena Williams of the United States and Simona Halep of Romania at the 2019 Australian Open in Melbourne, Australia, Jan. 21, 2019. Serena Williams won 2-1. (Xinhua/Bai Xuefei)
The Latest at the Australian Open on Wednesday (all times local):

2:35 p.m.

Serena Williams is back level at one set-all in her Australian Open quarterfinal against seventh-seeded Karolina Pliskova.

The match went to a deciding third set after Williams clinched the second set 6-4 by breaking Pliskova’s serve.

Pliskova, the 2016 U.S. Open runner-up, won the first set 6-4 and was up a break in the second.

But after being broken in the fifth game, Williams won six straight points and eight of nine to take a 4-3 lead.

Both players had easy holds before Williams got her second break of the set, with Pliskova serving to stay in it.

Williams hasn’t won a major since the 2017 Australian Open, which she claimed while pregnant with her daughter. She skipped her title defence and reached the fourth round at the French Open and the finals at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.

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1:50 p.m.

Karolina Pliskova has taken the first set off Serena Williams in their Australian Open quarterfinal.

The seventh-seeded Pliskova broke Williams’ serve in the third game and held serve from there to win the first set 6-4, closing with an ace.

The 26-year-old Czech player is one set from becoming just the fifth active player to beat Williams twice or more at major tournaments.

Williams is aiming for a record-tying 24th major title. She lost to Pliskova in the U.S. Open semifinals in 2016, but leads their career head-to-heads 2-1 after winning their quarterfinal match at last year’s U.S. Open.

The winner of Wednesday’s match will meet U.S. Open champion and fourth-seeded Naomi Osaka in the semifinals.

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12:28 p.m.

Naomi Osaka has reached her first semifinal at the Australian Open with a 6-4, 6-1 victory over Elina Svitolina.

Osaka used her aggressive style and big hitting to compile a 31-11 edge in winners, including eight aces.

The No. 4-seeded Osaka is the reigning U.S. Open champion. She never had been past the fourth round at Melbourne Park.

Svitolina had her neck and shoulders massaged by a trainer during a medical timeout while trailing 3-0 in the second set.

Osaka’s semifinal opponent will be 23-time major champion Serena Williams or No. 7 seed Karolina Pliskova.

Osaka beat Williams for the championship at Flushing Meadows last year in a match filled with all sorts of drama involving the American star and the chair umpire.

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(190121) — MELBOURNE, Jan. 21, 2019 (Xinhua) — Serena Williams hits a return during the women’s singles 4th round match between Serena Williams of the United States and Simona Halep of Romania at the 2019 Australian Open in Melbourne, Australia, Jan. 21, 2019. Serena Williams won 2-1. (Xinhua/Bai Xuefei)

10:30 a.m.

Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka can set up a rematch of their chaotic U.S. Open final by winning quarterfinal matches at the Australian Open.

The No. 4-seeded Osaka faces No. 6 Elina Svitolina in the first quarterfinal in Rod Laver Arena on Wednesday.

That will be followed by Williams’ matchup against No. 7 Karolina Pliskova.

Osaka beat Williams for the championship in New York last September in a match filled with all sorts of drama involving the American star and the chair umpire.

In Wednesday’s men’s quarterfinals at Melbourne Park, 2016 Wimbledon runner-up Milos Raonic faces No. 28 Lucas Pouille during the day, while 14-time major champion Novak Djokovic takes on 2014 U.S. Open finalist Kei Nishikori at night.