MELBOURNE (AFP ) - World No. 1 Simona Halep hit form to cruise past Venus Williams on Saturday (Jan 19) and set up a mouth-watering Australian Open last-16 clash with her sister Serena.
The Romanian top seed defeated Williams 6-2, 6-3 in one hour 17 minutes to post her best performance so far at this year's tournament after struggling through the early rounds.
"I think I played my best match here this year," the French Open champion said. "I'm really happy about the way I played, it's always a big challenge against the Williams sisters.
"I was super motivated today."
Halep, 27, reached the final at Melbourne Park in 2018 but arrived this year on a five-match losing streak, equalling the worst run of her career.
She was listless in her first two matches, complaining she was not at her best and grinding out three-set wins.
But against Williams, who is unseeded this year, Halep appeared sharp and focused, covering the court with a vigour her 38-year-old opponent could not match.
She expected a sterner test on Monday against Serena, who is chasing a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam at Melbourne Park and has an 8-1 winning record over the Romanian.
"Yeah, not easy. I just have to give my best," Halep said.
"I have nothing to lose, I play against a great champion. It's going to be a bigger challenge but I'm ready to face it."
Serena was relishing the prospect of facing the world's top-ranked player.
"I honestly would love to face the world No. 1, it will be great," she said. "I haven't played the world No. 1 since I've been back (from having a baby), so, yeah, it will be good."