Australian Open: Serena Williams fights off spirited Simona Halep
Serena Williams celebrates her fourth-round victory over Simona Halep (Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Not often does the world number one come into a match as the underdog, but they usually aren't playing Serena Williams. Simona Halep put in a tremendous fight, just as you always expect from her, but Serena willed herself to a 6-1, 4-6, 6-4 victory.

Serena will now face Karolina Pliskova in a rematch of their US Open quarterfinal for a spot in the last four of the Australian Open.  

Storming Out Front

It wasn't the ideal start by any means for each player, getting broken in their opening service games, but after that, it was one-way traffic for the 23-time Grand Slam champion. The American took the initiative by using her power to force more out of the Romanian, drawing unforced errors from her which gave her the opening break. Serena closed out the set in 20 minutes after an ace out wide. 

The Fighting Spirit

You just knew that Halep would not go down without a fight though it looked like the match would get extremely out of hand after Serena had broken for 2-1.  The Romanian kept her cool and leveled the set once again and began to find her groove. The tight second set reached its climax in the crucial 10th game with Serena serving to stay in the set.

At 30-all, Halep returned Serena's second serve up the middle than fired her next ball down the line to put her at set point. Halep would not be denied a final set after Serena knocked her backhand long as the Romanian, her fans, and the whole arena celebrated as they were in for a final set shootout. 

Halep celebrates winning the second set against Serena (Icon Sportswire/Getty Images)
Halep celebrates winning the second set against Serena (Icon Sportswire/Getty Images)

The two women held off efforts from the returner in their opening service games of the third set. Serena faced a break point after Halep hit a stunning forehand winner down the line that found the corner. The 16 seed just held on after a backhand winner that found the corner as well.

In a match with so many momentum shifts, you felt that there was just one more twist in the tale. That's exactly what happened with Halep serving in the seventh game. The American took her one break chance after the world number one dumped a forehand into the net, letting out a loud, "Come on!" as the finish line was in sight.

Serena had no problems closing out the match after Halep hit her forehand wide. The two shared smiles at the net after the match showing their mutual respect for the champion spirit within them.