Serena Williams withdraws ahead of Ashleigh Barty clash



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Serena Williams withdraws ahead of Ashleigh Barty clash

The 23-time Major champion Serena Williams scored three victories at the WTA 500 Yarra Valley Classic in Melbourne to advance into the semis. Still, the American will not play against world no. 1 Ashleigh Barty on Saturday, dealing with a shoulder injury and deciding to take a couple of days off ahead of the Australian Open that starts on Monday.

Serena experienced an Achilles injury last at the last year's Roland Garros, recovering just in time to make the Adelaide trip and serve a two-week quarantine ahead of the Melbourne arrival. Serena defeated Naomi Osaka in Adelaide and Daria Gavrilova, Tsvetlana Pironkova and Danielle Collins in Melbourne to reach the semis, although we won't see her in action tomorrow against the local star Ashleigh Barty.

Williams defeated Collins 6-2, 4-6 10-6 in an hour and 36 minutes, losing serve twice and delivering three return games from 12 opportunities.

Serena Williams withdraws from the Yarra Valley Classic.

The 23-time Major champion had the upper hand in the opening set against the former Australian Open semi-finalist, scoring three breaks for 6-2.

Serena broke in the second game and opened a 4-0 advantage with another return game on her tally. Danielle saved three break chances in game six and wasted the same number in the next one before Serena grabbed the third break for 6-2 after 41 minutes.

Both players served well in the second set's opening six games, and Collins moved in front with a break at 3-3 for her first advantage. The younger American defended three break points in the next game to confirm the lead and sealed the set 6-4 when Serena netted a backhand in game ten.

Serena placed a forehand winner in the match tie break to open a 5-1 gap and painted another at 8-4 to extend the advantage. Williams landed another direct point from her stronger wing at 9-6 to move over the top and grab the season's third victory.

The seven-time Australian Open champion will face Laura Siegemund in the first round next week, with Nina Stojanovic or Irina-Camelia Begu waiting in the second round. Serena shares the bottom quarter with Simona Halep, Elena Rybakina, Iga Swiatek and Aryna Sabalenka.