Queen Serena under threat from Keys in semi-finals

Wed Jan 28, 2015 7:17am EST
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MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Serena Williams will bid to slow the charge of the next generation of American tennis when she faces teenager Madison Keys in the semi-finals of the Australian Open on Thursday.

The top seed was irrepressible in her quarter-final defeat of Dominika Cibulkova, needing only two sets and scarcely more than an hour to send the 11th seed and last year's finalist crashing out of the tournament.

On her best run at Melbourne Park since her 2010 title, Williams has any number of reasons to be switched on against 19-year-old Keys in their first match.

The teenager defeated her older sister Venus despite carrying a thigh injury and may be one of the few women who can match the 18-times grand slam champion for raw power on her ground-strokes.

Another intriguing element sits in Keys' player's box.

Former world number one Lindsay Davenport has taken on the United States' most promising young talent and is well versed in Williams' game.

Davenport and Williams met 14 times on the women's tour and clashed in the final of the 2005 Australian Open, Williams winning it in three sets.

Perhaps more definitive will be Williams' hunger. The American has been queen of U.S. tennis for over a decade and will be in no mood to abdicate to a younger rival in the second match at Rod Laver Arena.

Whoever goes through will meet a Russian in the final, with second seed Maria Sharapova taking on the much-improved Ekaterina Makarova in the opener on center court.   Continued...

Serena Williams of the U.S. hits a return to Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia during their women's singles quarter-final match at the Australian Open 2015 tennis tournament in Melbourne January 28, 2015. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha