Dominant Williams and Djokovic into third round of Australian Open

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Sydney (dpa) – Serena Williams’s chase for a record-equalling 24th grand slam continued on Wednesday after she steamrolled past Serbia’s Nina Stojanovic into the third round of the Australian Open, while two-time defending champion Novak Djokovic sweat his way past Frances Tiafoe.

Williams was helped by 27 winners to her 6-3, 6-0 win over Stojanovic, who two days earlier had won her first match in the main draw of a major.

“She pushed me very hard and I think she played really well, honestly, throughout the whole match. So I had to really fight for all the games,” Williams said.

The 10th seed will next face Anastasia Potapova in the third round.

“It’s always a fun, interesting match [against Potapova]. Gonna go home, get ready and just do the best. We’re all out here to have fun and I’m happy to be out here, and just to be playing in front of crowd again is really cool. So every day is just fun,” Williams added.

Meanwhile in the men’s, Novak Djokovic survived his encounter against Tiafoe to also secure a spot in the third round.

The top seed and two-time defending champion didn’t have an easy match and needed three-and-a-half hours to complete a 6-3, 6-7(3-7), 7-6 (7-2), 6-3 win.

“Very tough match. Also difficult conditions. While we had sun on the court, it was very, very warm. A lot of long rallies,” said Djokovic, who is playing for a record-extending ninth Australian Open title.

“It’s not the first time that I’m in this kind of situation. I know how to handle this kind of circumstance. I was fortunate to get through the third set today – it was really anybody’s game.

“I want to give a hand to Frances for a great fight. It was a fantastic match,” he added.

In the third round Djokovic will face the winner of the match between Reilly Opelka and Taylor Fritz, both of the United States.

The 2014 Australian Open Singles champion Stan Wawrinka was knocked out of the second round in a dramatic five-set loss to Hungarian Marton Fucsovics.

The fifth set went to a tiebreak, with 17th-seeded Wawrinka holding three match points at 9-6.

After three hours and 59 minutes in sweltering heat, Fucsovics finally defeated the Swiss star 7-5, 6-1, 4-6, 2-6, 7-6 (11-9).

“Tough match of course, five sets, four hours. Always a difficult battle against my opponent that we play fair few times in the past, always a really tough match,” Wawrinka said.

“He [Fucsovics] was fighting well, he’s a tough player, he’s a good player and he deserved to win,” he added.

After the long marathon Fucsovics said the most important was that he “was very strong mentally.”

“It was a long match. Right now I feel like I’m dying. I played two five-setters, today’s very hot but I’m very happy to be in the third round,” the winner said.

Last year’s finalist Dominic Thiem also worked his way to the third round with a 6-4, 6-0, 6-2 victory over Germany’s Dominik Koepfer.

“Today was a good match, I think the best so far in Australia and a lot of good stuff to build on,” Thiem said.

“Especially after the first set, kind of everything started to work. I found a super good timing. I think it got some degrees cooler, which was little bit more comfortable to play,” he added.

Earlier at Rod Laver Arena eighth seeded Andreescu, who in 2019 defeated Williams in the US Open final, hit her fifth double fault of the match to lose 6-3, 6-2 to a resilient Hsieh, who is ranked 71st in singles and first in doubles.

Meanwhile next door at Margaret Court Arena, seventh seed Aryna Sabalenka defeated Russia’s Daria Kasatkina 7-6 (7-5), 6-3 to reach the third round of the Melbourne open for the second time in her career.

Andreescu was playing in her second match in 15 months – having last played the New York final. She skipped the whole 2020 season due to injury and opted out when the tour resumed after a break due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Hsieh, 35, will next face Italy’s Sara Errani, who beat seven-time Grand Slam winner Venus Williams 6-1, 6-0.

“It’s strange, I normally feel more excited playing a seeded player because you know they have all the skill on the court and (are) better than any of the other girls,” Hsieh said.

The 20-year-old Canadian was among the players who were not permitted to leave their hotel rooms at all for two weeks after arriving in Australia because other passengers aboard their charter flights had tested positive for coronavirus.

All players and their entourages had to quarantine for two weeks upon their arrival in Australia, but most competitors were allowed to train for five hours a day.

Play in Melbourne is taking place with the show courts filled to one-third with spectators as local authorities are allowing up to 30,000 fans to Melbourne Park each day.

It is a welcome change for players amid the coronavirus pandemic after last year’s US Open took place behind closed doors and the French Open in front of very small crowds. Monday’s attendance was 17,922 while Tuesday’s was 17,381.

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