'Don't cry': Serena overwhelms, comforts opponent at Australian Open
It was all a bit overwhelming for the latest opponent who could do nothing to slow Serena Williams at the Australian Open So Dayana Yastremska, an...
Melbourne: It was all a bit overwhelming for the latest opponent who could do nothing to slow Serena Williams at the Australian Open. So Dayana Yastremska, an 18-year-old from Ukraine, found herself wiping away tears as she walked to the net.
Williams knows what it's like to be the one weeping after a loss, so she put her right hand on Yastremska's shoulder and consoled her by saying, "You're so young. You did amazing. Don't cry."
Then they embraced, and Williams patted Yastremska on the back. Maybe Williams will be tested in the fourth round, because no one has come close to making her work too hard so far, including the 6-2, 6-1 victory on Saturday.
"I could tell she was quite upset. I kind of liked that. It shows she wasn't just there to play a good match - she was there to win. She wanted to win. That really broke my heart," Williams said. "I think she's a good talent. It's good to see that attitude."
Williams told Yastremska as much in the locker room afterwards.
"She said, like, 'You're young, you're very good and you will be a good player in the future. It's nice to hear those words from a legend," said the 57th-ranked Yastremska, who eliminated 2011 U.S. Open champion Sam Stosur in the first round and 23rd-seeded Carla Suarez Navarro in the second.
"If she thinks so," Yastremska added about Williams, "then maybe that's true."
Williams grabbed a pair of service breaks and a 4-0 lead after less than 15 minutes and was well on her way to yet another easy-looking win.
Not only has she won every set she played this week - and 20 in a row at Melbourne Park, dating to the start of her 2017 run to the title (she sat out last year's tournament after having a baby) - but Williams has ceded a total of only nine games through three victories.
Things could finally get interesting in Week 2, though, as Williams bids for an eighth trophy at the Australian Open and record-tying 24th Grand Slam title in all: She will face either her older sister, Venus, or No. 1-ranked Simona Halep next. Those two were scheduled to meet each other Saturday night.
Unlike any of Serena's foes until now, both Venus (with seven) and Halep (with one) have won a major title.
"Either way," Serena said, "it will be a really intense match. I'm looking forward to it."
Other women's fourth-rounders set up for Monday: Naomi Osaka, the woman who beat Serena in last year's chaotic U.S. Open final, against No. 13 Anastasija Sevastova, and 2017 U.S. Open runner-up Madison Keys against No. 6 Elina Svitolina.
Men's matchups Monday with a quarterfinal berth at stake will be No. 1 Novak Djokovic against No. 15 Daniil Medvedev, and 2014 U.S. Open finalist Kei Nishikori against No. 23 Pablo Carreno-Busta. Milos Raonic, the runner-up at Wimbledon in 2016, also advanced, awaiting the winner of the night match between No. 4 Alexander Zverev and Australian wild-card entry Alex Bolt.
Right from the start against Williams, Yastremska appeared a bit jittery, missing 9 of 10 first serves and double-faulting three times while getting broken in each of her opening two service games. By the end of the first set, the teenager had 13 unforced errors, nine more than Williams.
Didn't get much better in the second set, and Williams wound up with eight aces while facing zero break points, and a 20-13 ratio of winners to unforced errors.
Yastremska was born in 2000, the year after Serena won her initial major, and grew up cheering for someone she calls "a legend." Yastremska recalls swinging her racket in the living room at home while watching on TV at age 8 as her favourite player competed.
Surely, everything felt a tad different up-close-and-personal with the 37-year-old American in Rod Laver Arena.
What separates Williams from other top players?
"Everything. Small details. Her discipline. Her quality of the shots. How (committed) she is to every ball," Yastremska said. "She (is) completely different. I don't know how to describe that. It's just there's something special. What I'm trying to do is to go to the level that people are going to talk about me the same, that I have something special."