MELBOURNE, Australia – American Serena Williams matched one of Margaret Smith Court’s records at the Australian Open on Tuesday as she advanced to the third round with a 6-1, 6-2 victory over Vesna Dolonc of Serbia.
Williams improved her record to 60-8 at Melbourne Park, equaling Court’s 60 match victories in the Open era at the Australian championship.
Court, who won seven of her 11 Australian titles before the Open era began in 1968, has a show court named in her honor adjacent to Rod Laver Arena.
Two fans held up a sign saying center court was “Serena’s Arena.”
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She walked into the stadium wearing a fitted pink blazer, despite the 104-degree temperature.
Williams, a winner of 17 major singles titles, fended off the only break point she faced against the 104th-ranked Dolonc with an ace in the sixth game of the second set.
“I just try to hit a bunch of aces and a bunch of winners — that’s all you can do because it’s too hot to get into long rallies,” Williams said.
Li Na of China completed back-to-back victories over the two youngest players in the draw to reach the third round.
The 2011 French Open champion, a two-time finalist at Melbourne Park, raced through the first set against 16-year-old Belinda Bencic of Switzerland in 22 minutes. She had to work harder in the second before winning 6-0, 7-6 (7-5).
Li, 31, defeated 16-year-old Ana Konjuh of Croatia in the first round.
Temperatures reached 108 Monday, and there were nine retirements in the first round, equaling a Grand Slam tournament record.
In the men’s bracket, Novak Djokovic of Serbia stayed on track for a fourth consecutive title with a 6-0, 6-4, 6-4 victory over Leonardo Mayer of Argentina. Djokovic got a scare when he turned his left ankle in the first set.
No. 3 David Ferrer of Spain beat Adrian Mannarino of France 7-6 (7-2), 5-7, 6-0, 6-3 to progress, along with No. 7 Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic and No. 9 Richard Gasquet of France.
Touring pros must cope with the frustration of frequent rain delays at Wimbledon. Cool, damp weather often accompanies the French Open’s marathon matches. Seasons change from summer to fall during the U.S. Open.
But the Australian Open heat poses perhaps the most challenging conditions on the Grand Slam circuit.
Canadian qualifier Frank Dancevic said he blacked out during a three-set loss and described the conditions as dangerous.
Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark said the plastic on her water bottle began to melt when she set it down on the court during her first-round match. But she said an ice bath helped her recover quickly afterward.
“I could go out and play another two sets now,” Wozniacki said. “You know that it’s going to be hot. It’s Australia.”