All the key facts and talking points as fourth-round action continues at the first Grand Slam of the season.
Alex Macpherson
January 20, 2019


Seven-time champion Serena Williams leads her head-to-head against World No.1 Simona Halep 8-1, including 6-0 on outdoor hard courts and 2-0 in Grand Slams. Halep's sole win was a stunning 6-0, 6-2 scoreline in the round robin stages of the 2014 WTA Finals - which Williams would repay with a 6-3, 6-0 revenge in the final of the same tournament. Across her eight losses, Halep has taken Williams to three sets on three occasions: 3-6, 6-2, 6-1 in the second round of Wimbledon 2011 (their very first meeting), 6-2, 4-6, 7-5 in the 2015 Miami semifinals and 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 in the 2016 US Open quarterfinals (their most recent meeting).

If Simona Halep defeats Serena Williams, she will have accomplished the rare feat of beating both Williams sisters in back-to-back rounds at a Slam. Only eight players (a total of nine times) have defeated Venus and Serena in the same tournament, only four have done this at a Slam, and only two have pulled it off at a Slam in consecutive rounds: Martina Hingis at the 2001 Australian Open and Justine Henin at the 2007 US Open. Click here for a full historic breakdown of the Williams sisters double.

No.7 seed Karolina Pliskova leads her head-to-head against two-time major champion Garbiñe Muguruza 7-2, including 4-1 on outdoor hard courts - although the Spaniard won their only previous Grand Slam encounter 4-6, 7-5, 6-3 in the first round of Roland Garros 2013, the pair's first meeting (and Muguruza's debut at the tournament she would win three years later). Pliskova and Muguruza have not played since 2017, in which the Czech captured three of their four meetings, including their most recent 6-2, 6-2 in the round robin stages of the WTA Finals. Muguruza's last win over the Czech was a 6-3, 6-2 victory in the Cincinnati semifinals that year. Of their last seven matches, only one has gone to three sets - Pliskova's 6-2, 6-7(4), 7-5 win at the 2016 WTA Finals.

US Open champion Naomi Osaka and US Open semifinalist Anastasija Sevastova are all square at 2-2 - with three of those matches coming in the last year. The Japanese player won their first meeting 6-3, 6-4 in the second round of Toronto in 2017, but Sevastova captured two straight-sets victories last year in Doha and Beijing. Two weeks ago, in their first three-set match, Osaka won their Brisbane quarterfinal 3-6, 6-0, 6-4 to draw level.

Anastasija Sevastova - Australian Open 2011 - Getty
Anastasija Sevastova celebrates during her 2011 Australian Open run to the fourth round (Getty)

2015 semifinalist Madison Keys is unbeaten against WTA Finals champion Elina Svitolina in two meetings - the first via retirement in the first round of New Haven 2015, and the second 7-6(2), 1-6, 6-4 in the fourth round of the 2017 US Open en route to the American's first Grand Slam final.

Anastasija Sevastova has returned to the fourth round of the Australian Open for the first time in eight years: the Latvian reached this stage in 2011, the only Slam second-week showing of her first career, defeating Polona Hercog, Yanina Wickmayer and Vesna Dolonc before falling to Caroline Wozniacki. Overall, she is 3-1 at this stage of a major.

In the Open Era, 11 players have won their maiden Slam at the US Open. Three of those did not play the following Australian Open (Virginia Wade, Tracy Austin, Flavia Pennetta) and two lost in the first round in Melbourne (Samantha Stosur, Sloane Stephens). Naomi Osaka has joined the five who went on to make the second week here: Serena Williams (fourth round, 2000), Gabriela Sabatini (quarterfinals, 1991), Svetlana Kuznetsova (quarterfinals, 2005), Lindsay Davenport (semifinals, 1999) and Kim Clijsters (semifinals, 2006).

Serena Williams and Simona Halep both have dominant records in Grand Slam fourth rounds. Williams is 49-8 (not including her withdrawal at this stage of Roland Garros last year), and her last round-of-16 loss was at the 2014 Australian Open to Ana Ivanovic. Halep is 11-2, with her only losses coming at the 2013 US Open and Roland Garros 2016.

The match between Naomi Osaka and Anastasija Sevastova is guaranteed to produce a new Australian Open quarterfinalist, joining yesterday's winners Ashleigh Barty and Danielle Collins. Elina Svitolina and Garbiñe Muguruza have reached one each, Madison Keys and Karolina Pliskova have two under their belt, Simona Halep has made three and Serena Williams leads the way on 11.



The Simona Halep/Serena Williams clash is the World No.1 versus the GOAT, according to ESPN's Alyssa Roenigk, who asks: "Both women have legitimate claims to being the top player in the game. The question is, which woman will play like it come Monday?"

Ashleigh Barty is thriving under the spotlight, making her maiden major quarterfinal in front of an adoring home crowd: "She came into the tournament with many eyes on her, and is living up to her top billing," writes Reem Abulleil for


Click here for Monday's order of play at Flinders Park.