MELBOURNE, Australia (AP): Serena Williams has advanced to the Australian Open quarter finals with a scrappy 7-5, 6-4 win over Barbora Strycova to open play at Rod Laver Arena yesterday. Williams is attempting to win her Open era-record 23 Grand Slam singles title, her seventh Australian Open championship and, with top-ranked Angelique Kerber’s fourth-round loss, a return to the number one ranking. She had 23 unforced errors in the first set and needed eight set points to clinch it. There were seven breaks of serve in the set, including the first four games. On the final point of the set a backhand by Williams bounced flatly on Strycova’s side of the court. The Czech player couldn’t pick it up and Williams had the first set in 55 minutes. Williams took a 4-1 lead in the second set and had her serve broken when she served for the match at 5-3. But Williams came back in the next game to break Strycova’s serve and clinch the match. Williams next plays the winner of a later match between Ekaterina Makarova and Johanna Konta. If Serena Williams needed any more incentive to win her seventh Australian Open title and a record 23rd Grand Slam major, she may have got it with top-ranked Angelique Kerber’s fourth-round loss. Williams began her match against Barbora Strycova on Rod Laver Arena yesterday knowing that if she does clinch the title next Saturday, she will overtake Kerber for the number one ranking. Williams lost the top ranking, which she had held for three consecutive years, to Kerber after the German player won the US Open in September.
England beat Colombia on penalties in their last 16 fixture 3 There is a precedent from the 2003 Rugby World Cup victory, where the manager at the time, Clive Woodward was knighted in the New Year’s Honours list that year, with 38 of the 59 sporting honours related to the World Cup triumph.Goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, who saved a crucial penalty in England’s first ever World Cup spot-kick success, is also priced in the market for a knighthood. Leading the charge is the well-dressed Gareth Southgate, aided by his humble captain Harry Kane.The Tottenham Hotspur striker is leading the race for the Golden Boot with six goals and, alongside his national team manager, is winning over fans on a regular basis.In fact, such is the growing popularity of the pair, the odds on the duo becoming Knights of the Realm are seemingly decreasing by the day.The pair are just 5/1 to receive knighthoods if England bring the World Cup home from Russia. Pickford made a vital save against Carlos Bacca on Tuesday night If he carries on with his heroics between the sticks, Sky Bet rate him at 33/1 to become Sir Jordan.Meanwhile, Sky Bet are on for an 8-figure loss should England win the World Cup.Due to a money back offer pre-tournament, Three Lions fans piled into Southgate’s boys at 16/1, leaving Sky Bet with a huge liability should they bring it home. 3 3 When England began their World Cup campaign against Tunisia two weeks ago, fans were just hopeful they could get out of the group.Expectations around the Three Lions were very low and there was little to no pressure on the young team.However, positive football and a sense of togetherness not seen for generations has whipped the country into a frenzy. Kane has scored six goals from six shots on target. Lethal