Sports

After Venus, Keys must unlock Serena

Serena Williams will turn to her sister for advice for her all-American semi-final against Madison Keys, the teenager with designs on the throne of US women's tennis.

An injury-hampered Keys defeated Venus Williams in three sets yesterday to continue her fairy-tale run at the Australian Open and now faces the ultimate test against top seed and world No. 1 Serena today.

Serena has previously suffered defeat by a US prodigy at Melbourne Park, beaten by teenager Sloane Stephens in the 2013 tournament.

Into her first semi-final in Melbourne in five years after a 6-2, 6-2 rout of Dominika Cibulkova yesterday, Serena will be on her guard against the 19-year-old Keys, long touted as the future standard-bearer for the women's game in America.

"She's playing great. I told her I was really happy that she did well," Serena said.

"She's in the semis. It's good to see another American, another African American, in the semi-finals playing so well.

"It's also great for me and Venus because we know that finally there are other Americans constantly playing well and playing better, showing that they want to be the world's greatest.

"For sure, I'll ask (Venus). (I will) also ask my coach, who has been steering me these last two weeks. I'm really excited to be in the semis."

The unseeded Keys had to overcome an injury scare to down the 18th-seeded Venus in a 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 rollercoaster to set up a final-four clash with the rampant top seed Serena.

"The moment's definitely sweeter being able to play Venus," Keys said, after defeating the 34-year-old seven-time Grand Slam winner she grew up idolising in Rock Island, Illinois.

"It's amazing, obviously I was very nervous coming out but I had to embrace the moment and I did and I get to enjoy another moment in the next round."

Venus said "the sky's the limit" for the teenager.

"You have to give credit where credit is due. She played really well. This is her moment today," she said.

COLD COMPLAINT

Serena has complained of a cold in recent days at Melbourne Park and said it was getting "worse and worse", but there was little evidence of that as she broke her pattern of slow starts to rout last year's finalist Cibulkova in just over an hour.

Breaking the Slovak 11th seed twice in each set, Williams gave nothing on serve and closed out the match when Cibulkova clubbed a return past the baseline.

The 33-year-old grinned broadly as she smiled and waved at the Rod Laver Arena crowd on a sunny, breezy day.

Keys, who will improve on her world No. 35 ranking after the tournament, will have American three-time Grand Slam champion Lindsay Davenport helping her prepare for the semi-final.

Serena, with an astonishing 18 Major wins in her locker already, beat old rival Davenport in three sets in the 2005 final, her second of five titles at Melbourne Park.

"I think Lindsay and Madison have done really well together. Obviously, this is her first semi-finals," she said.

"I'm sure there are going to be many more, including Grand Slam wins, for Madison... And they really just make a good team. Really, nice, easy-going people." - AFP.