By Kurt Streeter, New York Times
MELBOURNE, Australia — Simona Halep of Romania is ranked No. 1 in the world in women’s tennis. Last season, she won her first Grand Slam title, on the red clay of Roland Garros.
On Monday night at Melbourne Park, she faced an opponent who, if judged by the numerical listing spit out by the pro tour’s computer, should have been handled by Halep with relative ease. Except that player, currently ranked 16th in the world, is no slouch. That player, in fact, is Serena Williams, pure greatness in fishnet tights.
So it was hardly a shock that Williams ended up improving that record on Monday, rolling past the 27-year-old Halep by a 6-1, 4-6, 6-4 score.
Halep versus Williams in the round of 16 was a rare moment in tennis. It was a match in which the top-ranked player was also the decided underdog. Not only was Halep facing a formidable opponent with 23 major titles, seven of them in Melbourne alone, but she was also confronting someone who had dominated their career head-to-head matchups, winning eight times and losing just once.