Sport Tennis Williams, Li safely into third round

Williams, Li safely into third round

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World No.1 Serena Williams made short work of the challenge posed by Serbian Vesna Dolonc to advance to the third round of the Australian Open on Wednesday.

The American started her 2014 Open campaign by conceding only three games to Australian Ashleigh Barty on Monday and was just as miserly in the second round as she hammered Dolonc 6-1 6-2.

The top-seeded Williams, 32, is chasing a sixth Australian Open title and a first since 2010.

“I’m still excited just to be here and playing in front of this crowd,” said Williams after claiming victory on another baking hot day in Melbourne.

“I’m just happy to still be alive.”

Two-time Australian Open finalist Li Na overcame stiff second-set resistance from Swiss teen Belinda Bencic to book a third-round clash with Czech Lucie Safarova.

Li, the No.4 seed from China, raced through the opening set but had to work much harder in the second before overcoming Bencic 6-0 7-6 (7-5) in one hour and 20 minutes.

At 16, Bencic had been the youngest player in the women’s draw.

She had advanced to the second round by disposing of the oldest competitor – 43-year-old Kimiko Date-Krumm from Japan – in the opening round on Monday.

Li lost year’s final at Melbourne Park to Victoria Azarenka and was also runner-up in 2011, to Kim Clijsters.

Her sole grand slam title came at the 2011 French Open.

Safarova started slowly in her match against Czech Lucie Hradecka before winning 6-7 (4-7) 6-3 6-0.

Romanian Monica Niculescu equalled her best Australian Open result, moving into the third round with an upset 2-6 6-2 6-2 victory over Wimbledon finalist Sabine Lisicki from Germany.

The erratic Lisicki made 56 unforced errors across the three-set match, compared to only 18 from Niculescu.

Thai giantkiller Luksika Kumkhum’s campaign faltered as she lost 4-6 6-3 6-4 to German Mona Barthel.

Kumkhum had beaten No.6 seed and 2011 Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova from the Czech Republic in the opening round on Monday.