|Serena and Azarenka move on
Third seed Serena Williams brushed aside any injury worries to sweep into the Australian Open third round today with a straight sets defeat of Garbine Muguruza.
Also today, defending champion Victoria Azarenka said she was “in the zone,’’ with her game exactly where she wants it as she cruised into the third round
Williams, the 15-time Grand Slam winner, gunning for a sixth Australian title, rolled her ankle on Tuesday but was moving freely in the 6-2, 6-0 defeat of the Spaniard, AFP reports.
She next plays Japan's Ayumi Morita, who beat German Annika Beck, and if the draw goes to plan is scheduled to meet world number one Victoria Azarenka in the semi-finals.
Williams had never before played the 112th-ranked Spaniard, who was making her tournament debut, and she raced to a 2-0 lead before some uncharacteristic forehand errors allowed Muguruza to hold service and get off the mark.
The American wasn't at her best and even hit herself in the face with her racquet in the sixth game as she went for a lob at full stretch, spending the next game dabbing at her lip. But she rallied to break once more for 5-2 and held for the set.
The second set opened with a marathon 18-minute game, with Williams finally prevailing to break. Any fight left in the Spaniard disappeared with the American taking only 19 more minutes to reel off the last five games.
Azarenka lost just one game in a 6-1, 6-0 thrashing of Greek Eleni Daniilidou and will next play American Jamie Hampton, who sent Thai qualifier Luksika Kumkhum packing. Her victory keeps the top seed on course to meet former world number one Caroline Wozniacki in the quarter-finals as she defends her first Grand Slam title, and she said she was in good touch.
“I felt really good, I enjoyed a lot the way I was focused,’’ she said. “`I definitely stepped it up from my first match, and I was in the zone trying to execute all of my shots. I was trying to make everything happen, and that's what I'm happy about.’’
Azarenka's key rivals, Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams, both scored straights sets wins and Azarenka looked intent on producing her own until Daniilidou finally won a game for 5-1, to big cheers.
But it was only a hiccup for Azarenka, and with her renowned grunting growing in volume and shouts of “C'mon’’ becoming more regular, she raced through the second set in 31 minutes.
While Azarenka is the world's top-ranked player, Sharapova and Williams are breathing down her neck and she needs to reach the final to have any chance of remaining number one.