MELBOURNE: Serena Williams set up a blockbuster Australian Open semi-final with Naomi Osaka after producing her best performance of the tournament to defeat Simona Halep 6-3, 6-3 in Tuesday. The 39-year-old American went toe-to-toe with the Romanian second seed over 80 engrossing minutes on Rod Laver Arena before she was finally able to move to within two victories of a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title. The victory serves as a measure of revenge for the last time the pair played when Halep defeated Williams in the 2019 Wimbledon final. Williams, who mixed 24 winners with 33 unforced errors over the contest, has not won a major since her seventh Australian Open triumph in 2017, losing four successive major finals since then. The third of those four defeats came against Osaka in the 2018 US Open final, so Williams will have another shot at revenge. For Halep, who reached the semi-finals last year and was losing finalist in 2018, it was back to the drawing board as she looks to add to her two Grand Slam titles at the French Open and Wimbledon. Williams will need to deliver a similarly impressive display when she faces Osaka, who maintained her bid for fourth major title after crushing Hsieh Su-wei 6-2, 6-2 earlier in the day. Osaka is aiming to win the Australian Open immediately after claiming the US Open for a second time – she previously achieved the feat in 2018 and 2019 – and her win over Hsieh was markedly easier than their last meeting at Melbourne Park. Osaka had a torrid time against Hsieh in 2019, having to come back from a set and a break down on the way to claiming the championship.