Hard earned win for Serena, faces Cibulkova in quarters

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Melbourne:   Serena Williams avoided another Grand Slam defeat by Spain’s Garbine Muguruza as she fought back to reach the Australian Open quarter-finals. She won the match in 2-6,6-3, 6-2.

On Monday at the Australian Open, with planes buzzing over Rod Laver Arena for Australia Day, Muguruza picked up right where she had left off, winning the first set of her fourth-round match against Williams, 6-2.

“I think for once, I didn’t start out slow,” the No. 1-seeded Williams said. “She just played well.”

But Williams has not won 18 Grand Slam singles titles by letting losses become patterns. And although Muguruza maintained her composure and her huge-hitting approach, Williams’s experience and athleticism would trump youth this time.

Her victory — which turned for good on a nearly 13-minute service game early in the third set — put Williams back into the quarterfinals of the tournament, which she has won five times.

Williams will face Dominika Cibulkova, a surprise Australian Open finalist last year, who won a memorable duel of her own to defeat Victoria Azarenka in three sets in the opening act at Rod Laver Arena.

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