Halep sets up Serena showdown, Djokovic relentlessly marches on Jan 20, 2019 0 422 12345 AFPMelbourneWorld No. 1 Simona Halep set up a headline last 16 showdown with Serena Williams by beating her sister Venus on Saturday as Novak Djokovic’s relentless drive towards more Australian Open glory cranked up another gear.On day six at Melbourne Park, the Romanian finally hit form to pull off her best win of the year and cruise past the veteran American 6-2, 6-3.“I was super-motivated today,” she said after being taken to three sets in both her opening two matches as she bounces back from a herniated disc that ended her 2018 season early.“I have nothing to lose,” she added, looking ahead to Monday’s clash against 23-time Grand Slam winner Serena. “I playing against a great champion. Its’s going to a bigger challenge but I’m ready to face it.”Williams crushed Ukrainian Dayana Yastremska 6-2, 6-1 before consoling her at the net as the teenager burst into tears.The ominous 37-year-old, seeded 16, has dropped just nine games in her three matches so far on her first return to the tournament since winning it in 2017 while pregnant.“I just play each match at a time, play as hard as I can and do the best I can. That really is all you can do,” she said as she zeroes in on an eighth Australian title and a record-equalling 24th Slam crown.Fourteen-time Grand Slam winner and top seed Djokovic is gunning for a record seventh Australian title.He dropped a set for the first time this year against fast-rising Canadian Denis Shapovalov, before demolishing him in the fourth stanza to win 6-3, 6-4, 4-6, 6-0.Djokovic’s victory means he is guaranteed to stay world number one when the new rankings are released after the tournament. He next plays another up-and-coming star, Russia’s 15th seed Daniil Medvedev, who eased past David Goffin and has yet to drop a set.Another young gun Alexander Zverev made the last 16 for the first time when he swatted aside Australian Alex Bolt in three sets and will play former world number three Milos Raonic for a place in the quarter-finals.Fourth seed Naomi Osaka looked down and out against Taiwanese veteran Hsieh Su-wei before battling back to win 7-5, 4-6, 6-1 and set up meeting with Latvia’s Anastasija Sevastova.‘Die or win’ Osaka’s win equals the 21-year-old’s best performance at the Australian Open, where she reached the last 16 in 2018 but lost to Halep.But she looked headed for the exit when she conceded the first set and was down 4-1 in the second, before winning five straight games to force a decider.“I just didn’t want to give up,” said the Japanese, who received a code violation after throwing her racquet. Sixth seed Elina Svitolina struggled with a painful shoulder complaint that required treatment at every changeover, and medical timeouts, before she somehow beat China’s Zhang Shuai 4-6, 6-4, 7-5 as the temperature rose in the centre court sunshine.“I just told myself ‘you’re going to die or win’,” said Svitolina, who scored her biggest career win by clinching the WTA Finals in Singapore last October.She will next meet 17th-seeded American Madison Keys, while 7th seed and former world No. 1 Karolina Pliskova will face two-time Slam winner Garbine Muguruza. Eighth seed Kei Nishikori made it back-to-back victories for Japan, following Osaka on court by beating Portugal’s 44th-ranked Joao Sousa in three sets.The 29-year-old has won all three of his first week matches on Margaret Court Arena to reach the last 16 for the seventh time in nine appearances.“I love to play this court,” said the 2014 US Open finalist after delighting a large contingent of Japanese fans.He next plays Spain’s 23rd seed Pablo Carreno Busta.Fourth seed Alexander Zverev demolished Australian wildcard Alex Bolt in straight sets 6-3, 6-3, 6-2 to set up a fourth-round match-up with Canada’s Milos Raonic.The German fourth seed said his next match would be “tough.” “There’s not going to be a lot of long rallies. Both of us can serve pretty well, it’s going to be fun.”France’s Lucas Pouille beat back a challenge from Australian wildcard Alexei Popyrin in an almost four-hour battle that ended 7-6 (7-3), 6-3, 6-7 (10-12), 4-6, 6-3 and the up-and-coming 22-year-old Borna Coric defeated Filip Krajinovic 2-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-3. Pages 1234 RELATED ARTICLES ‘Agitated’ Novak regrets meltdown in floodlight fury Jan 20, 2019 0 293 India praised for ‘perfect finish’ to historic Australia tour Jan 20, 2019 0 211 And you are? Federer stopped by security Jan 20, 2019 0 274 I put on 15 kilos but I’m still called asparagus: Zverev Alexander Zverev, known for being tall and slender, complained Saturday that despite working with fitness coach Jez Green for five years and putting on 15 kilos he still gets called “asparagus.” The 21-year-old ..