Serena Williams cautiously walked onto the court and tried to keep the points short to avoid irritating her injured right ankle as she advanced...
MELBOURNE, Australia — Serena Williams cautiously walked onto the court and tried to keep the points short to avoid irritating her injured right ankle as she advanced to the third round at the Australian Open.
Apart from a swollen lip from hitting herself in the face with her racket in the sixth game, she emerged unscathed.
Summoning all her experience from 15 major titles, including the final two of last season, Williams lifted her tempo on the biggest points — winning an 18-minute game to open the second set, finally cashing in on her fourth break chance.
Nineteen minutes later, she finished off a 6-2, 6-0 win Thursday over No. 112 Garbine Muguruza of Spain with an ace at 128.7 mph — the fastest she can remember serving.
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“I’m on the up and up, I feel. It can only get better from here,” she said, adding that she wasn’t bothered by the ankle during the match. “Obviously when you go out to play you’re heavy on adrenaline and you’re really pumped up,” she said. “Usually I feel injuries after the match but so far, so good. I felt pretty much better than I ever dreamed of expecting to feel.”
Williams said she was bleeding from the lip at one stage, “but it’s OK. It’s a war wound.”
Defending champion Victoria Azarenka of Belarus practically danced into Rod Laver Arena for the match before Williams’ victory, and said she’s starting to find some rhythm after beating Eleni Daniilidou of Greece 6-1, 6-0 in 55 minutes.
With temperatures expected to top 102 degrees, Azarenka didn’t want to be out in the heat.
“I felt like I’m back into the competitive mode,” she said. “I was really focused — that was for sure the best part of the game for me.”
The heat didn’t seem to bother 42-year-old Kimiko Date-Krumm of Japan, who advanced 6-2, 7-5 over Shahar Peer of Israel. Date-Krumm is the oldest woman to win a singles match at the Australian Open.
No. 10 Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark defeated Donna Vekic of Croatia 6-1, 6-4.
Other women advancing included No. 14 Maria Kirilenko of Russia, No. 16 Roberta Vinci of Italy, No. 20 Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium and Elena Vesnina of Russia, who beat No. 21 Varvara Lepchenko of the U.S. 6-4, 6-2. Former U.S. Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia beat No. 26 Hsieh Su-wei of Taiwan 6-2, 6-1.
U.S. Open champion Andy Murray had a 6-2, 6-2, 6-4 victory over Joao Sousa of Portugal. Murray, who ended a 76-year drought by British men in Grand Slam tournaments with his win at Flushing Meadows last year, didn’t allow Sousa a single break point chance.
Standing in the way of a potential second Grand Slam title for Murray is a likely semifinal against No. 2 Roger Federer, who was playing his second-round match Thursday night.
Others advancing include: 2008 Australian finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France, who pretended to do pushups to disguise a fall during his 6-3, 7-6 (7-1), 6-3 win over Japan’s Go Soeda; No. 13 Milos Raonic of Canada; No. 17 Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany and No. 21 Andreas Seppi of Italy. Lithuanian qualifier Ricardas Berankis ousted No. 25 Florian Mayer of Germany 6-2, 6-3, 6-1.
Novak Djokovic advanced on Wednesday night, extending his winning streak at Melbourne Park to 16 with a 6-1, 6-2, 6-3 win over 20-year-old American Ryan Harrison and remaining on track for a third consecutive Australian Open title.
No. 4 David Ferrer of Spain, No. 5 Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic and No. 8 Janko Tipsarevic of Serbia all went through on day three, along with No. 20 Sam Querrey, the highest-ranked American left in the men’s tournament.
Women’s No. 2 Maria Sharapova routed Japan’s Misaki Doi in 47 minutes, even less time than she needed to beat fellow Russian Olga Puchkova two days earlier.
The first woman to post back-to-back 6-0, 6-0 wins at a Grand Slam since 1985 next plays seven-time major winner Venus Williams in the third round.
Sharapova leads the head-to-head series 4-3 against Venus Williams, but Williams has won both of their Grand Slam meetings.