Dominant Serena powers into Open third round

Dominant Serena powers into Open third round

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Dominant world number one and defending champion Serena Williams powered into the Australian Open third round Wednesday with a straight-sets demolition of Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei.The six-time Melbourne Park winner, who is gunning to equal Steffi Graf’s Open-era record of 22 Grand Slam titles, blitzed Hsieh 6-1, 6-2 on Rod Laver Arena.She next faces either Russian Daria Kasatkina with a potential quarter-final clash against arch-rival Maria Sharapova awaiting. “She was definitely a tricky opponent but it was a good match for me to play someone like that. I needed that,” said Williams, who made her Grand Slam debut in Melbourne in 1998.”It all started here for me, that is where I played my first match in a Grand Slam, on this court, and I’m still going. It’s an honour.”Williams gave herself an “A” for effort as she battled past Italy’s Camila Giorgi in the first round, easing concerns over an injured knee that troubled her in the build-up, but she didn’t need to try as hard against Hsieh.On paper, the 90th ranked Taiwanese was no match for Williams. She reached the tournament second week as a qualifier in 2008, but had only won two matches here since.Williams though was taking nothing for granted in only her second tour-level match since the US Open in September.Again wearing a canary yellow pleated skirt and matching midriff-baring shirt, she was slow to get going with her serve rusty but she held on to go 1-0 in front.Williams soon got into the groove and was moving well, pressuring the Hsieh serve with searing returns and a wild volley from the Taiwanese handed her the initial break to pull 2-0 clear.The 34-year-old American, who dropped only three matches in 56 last season, came under pressure in the third game but held firm to maintain the advantage before Hsieh finally got on the scoreboard by holding serve for 1-3.As Williams warmed to the task, Hsieh’s Grand Slam inexperience came to the fore with the American breaking again to love then completing the set in 28 minutes.Williams was consistently firing down serves 30 kph (18.6 mph) faster than Hsieh and it was taking its toll, with weak returns opening up the court for the top seed. She made the most of her opportunities and sealed the match with an ace for a routine victory in one hour exactly.Williams won three majors, the Australian and French Opens and Wimbledon, last year which took her to within one of Graf’s long-time record of 22, and put her three clear of both Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova.Melbourne Park has been a happy hunting ground. She claimed her first Australian Open title in 2003, beating sister Venus in the final, and reached her sixth last year when she toppled arch-rival Sharapova. (BSS/AFP)

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