Melbourne, Australia — Serena Williams has had so much success for such a long time that even in a second-round match she can set a record at the season’s first Grand Slam event.
The six-time and defending champion beat No. 90-ranked Hsieh Su-wei 6-1, 6-2 on Wednesday at Rod Laver Arena, an all-time record 79th main draw match at the Australian Open.
She closed with an ace, her seventh, finishing in precisely an hour.
“It all started here — this is where I played my first Grand Slam right on this court and I’m still going, it’s such an honor,” said Williams, who has a 70-9 win-loss record at Melbourne Park since her debut in 1998. “I love it every time I come here.”
She hit 26 winners, including one around the post that she thought may have been a first for her, at age 34.
“My first one I think,” she said. “I was like, “Yay. Never too late.”
Williams’ next opponent will be 18-year-old Russian Daria Kasatkina, who beat Croatia’s Ana Konjuh 6-4, 6-3, and she faces a potential quarterfinal match against 2015 finalist Maria Sharapova, who reached the third round with a 6-2, 6-1 win over Aliaksandra Sasnovich.
Williams was on course for a calendar-year Grand Slam in 2015 with wins here and at the French Open and Wimbledon before a semifinal loss at the U.S. Open to Roberta Vinci of Italy.
Asked, by an Italian journalist, if she’d watched a replay of that match, Williams gave a touchy response: “Yeah, I watch it every day. Every night to get ready.”
No. 13 Vinci beat Irina Falconi 6-2, 6-3 to advance in the opposite quarter of the same half of the draw.
Roger Federer extended his streak by reaching the third round for the 17th straight Australian Open, and registered his 299th match win at a major.
Federer, playing his 65th consecutive major, advanced 6-3, 7-5, 6-1 over Alexandr Dolgopolov. He lost in the third round in his first two trips to Melbourne Park in 2000 and ‘01 and again last year — in between he won the title four times and lost one final during a run of reaching the semifinals or better in 11 straight years.
“I hope to keep it up as long as I choose to play tennis,” he said. “I mean, it’s the least I expect to be in the third round of a Slam, obviously, so I’m pumped up, playing well, feeling good.
“But there’s always a danger, you know. Like last year the third round was the end for me, so I hope to go further this time.”
He may have to meet Grigor Dimitrov, who plays with a style that has been compared with Federer’s, in the third round.
Seventh-seeded Kei Nishikori, the 2014 U.S. Open finalist, advanced with a 6-3, 7-6 (5), 6-3 win over Austin Krajicek and No. 6 Tomas Berdych beat Mirza Basic 6-4, 6-0, 6-3 to advance along with No. 15 David Goffin and No. 19 Dominic Thiem.
Sharapova, the 2008 champion and four-time finalist at Melbourne Park, dropped two service games in the first set, including once when serving at 5-1, but was otherwise consistent except for some over-hit ground strokes.
“To come back here and play my first match on Rod Laver is always very special as you always get those first little jitters out of the way.”
No. 12 Belinda Bencic had a 6-3, 6-3 win over Timea Babos and 92nd-ranked Kateryna Bondarenko earned one of her biggest wins since returning from retirement after having a baby in 2013, beating two-time major winner and No. 23-seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-1, 7-5.