Australian Open - Women: Serena, Sharapova in control

Thu, 19 Jan 08:27:00 2012

Serena Williams said before the start of the Australian Open that even with just two warm-up matches under her belt she was ready for Melbourne Park. More than ready it seems.

Serena Williams of the US reacts - 0

The American, with lattice-work strapping snaking up from her injured left ankle to behind her knee, brushed aside Czech Barbora Zahlavova Strycova 6-0 6-4 in 66 minutes to reach the third round.

Five-times champion Williams was unable to defend her 2009 and 2010 titles last year due to injury and there were concerns she would not be ready for the year's first Grand Slam after pulling out of the Brisbane International quarter-finals with an injured ankle.

After shaking off the rust in the first round against Tamira Paszek, Williams was on song from the get-go, blasting baseline winners past Strycova and racing through the first set in just 22 minutes.

Her Czech opponent won her first service game of the second set, eliciting enthusiastic applause from the crowd, but the Williams response was predictable, the 30-year-old winning her next serve to love and breaking Strycova to go 3-1 up.

Williams had her first wobble while serving for the match at 5-3, giving Strycova a sniff of snatching the second set, but the American broke straight back to seal the set 6-4 and earn her place in the third round.

Australian Open - Round 3

Williams, who racked up her 500th match win with the victory, said her ankle was still causing her problems, a potential issue for tougher tests ahead.

"It's fine, I just have really wobbly ankles," she said in a televised interview. "I wasn't meant to be a ballerina or anything."

Much has been made of Williams' fight to stay healthy after a catalogue of injuries kept her off court for most of last year, but the world number 12 said she felt fine and that her tumble on Thursday had not exacerbated her ankle issue.

"It's totally fine, it was my good ankle," she said in the post-match news conference. "There was no extra pain, it was fine. I twisted it but it's all taped up, so the tape really, really helped."

Williams, who will play Hungary's Greta Arn in the next round after she outlasted 17th seeded Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia 6-2 3-6 10-8.

Australian Open†: Serena W

World number two Petra Kvitova survived a major scare against Carla Suarez Navarro, hitting back from a break down in the third set to salvage a 6-2 2-6 6-4 win.

Wimbledon champion Kvitova sailed through the first set behind her big serve and booming forehand, and at that stage there was no sign of the troubles to come.

However, Suarez Navarro got the measure of the Czech's serve in the second set, pinning her back behind the baseline with deep backhands and angled cross-court forehand swipes.

The Spaniard took the second set by breaking Kvitova at 5-2 and jumped to a 2-0 lead to start the third.

But Kvitova suddenly found a spark with a forehand winner to avoid going 3-0 down before breaking Suarez Navarro's serve to start the comeback.

She now faces 27th-seeded Russian Maria Kirilenko who outlasted Canada's Aleksandra Wozniak 6-4 1-6 6-2.

Australian Open†: Carla Su

Maria Sharapova stormed into the third round with a 6-0 6-1 trouncing of American qualifier Jamie Hampton in glorious sunshine.

The leggy Russian had too much firepower for the 144th-ranked Hampton and wrapped up the match in just 64 minutes at Rod Laver Arena.

Sharapova, who won the 2008 title in Melbourne, the last of her three Grand Slams, sealed the match with an imperious cross-court backhand Hampton could only weakly tap back into the net.

The blonde world number four next plays Germany's 30th-seeded Angelique Kerber, who beat Stephanie Dubois of Canada 7-5 6-1.

Australian Open†: Maria Sh

Vera Zvonareva, who this time last year was ranked number two in the world, dominated Czech Lucie Hradecka 6-1 7-6 (3) and the seventh seed will next face fellow Russian Ekaterina Makarova who defeated the tournament's 25th seed, Kaia Kanepi of Estonia, 6-2 7-5.

China's Zheng Jie, who made the semi-finals in 2010, upset 23rd seed Roberta Vinci of Italy 6-4 6-2 and will face France's Marion Bartoli in their third round match.

Ninth seed Bartoli turned in a clinical performance to show Australia's last hope Jelena Dokic to the exit door at Rod Laver Arena, beating her 6-3 6-2 in one hour and 12 minutes.

Former world number two Svetlana Kuznetsova beat young American Sloane Stephens in two tie-breaks and will now face the 14th seed Sabine Lisicki of Germany thumped Israel's Shahar Peer 6-1 6-2.

Serbian 21st seed Ana Ivanovic also enjoyed a straightforward route into the third round, beating Michaella Krajicek 6-2 6-3 to set up a meeting with Vania King, the American beating 15th seeded Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 7-5 3-6 6-4.

Italy's Sara Errani beat another Russian seed, the 29th ranked Nadia Petrova 6-2 6-2, and will face Sam Stosur’s conquerer Sorana Cirstea who got the better of Urszula Radwanska†1-6 6-2 6-3.

Australian Open†: Ana Ivan

Reuters

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