(January 20, 2017) No. 2 seed Serena Williams cruised past U.S. countrywoman Nicole Gibbs 6-1, 6-3 to reach the fourth-round of the Australian Open on Saturday in Melbourne.
The 22-time major champion, who is seeking her 7th Australian Open title needed only 63 minutes to advance to her sixth straight round of 16 in Melbourne.
She’ll take on 16th seed Barbora Strycova who defeated No. 21 Caroline Garcia 6-2, 7-5.
“I have seen her play a lot,” Williams said. “She’s always playing. Venus has played her a few times. I saw her play in Sydney. She’s super fit. She has a good game. She’s very aggressive, so that would be nice to play.
“Again, I don’t have anything to prove in this tournament here. Just, you know, doing the best I can.
“Obviously I’m here for one reason. But at the end of the day, this is all bonus for me and I look forward to playing her. I’m ready for her.”
“She’s human, and she is beatable,” Strycova said of Williams. “This is a Grand Slam, and we are talking that she already won, but I don’t like these talks.
“But if she wins, I will try my best. And I will have to work hard and play my best tennis to beat Serena, because she is amazing player. She know how to play these matches.”
2009 Australian Open winner No. 9 seed Rafael Nadal won a five-set, four-hour plus slug fest against 19-year-old Alexander Zverev 4-6, 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-2.
“I enjoyed a lot this great battle,” Nadal said. “I was losing the last couple of times in the fifth set and I said to myself, today’s the day.”
Asked on court about how he came back to win, Nadal said: “Well, fighting – and running a lot. I think you know, everybody knows how good Alexander is – he’s the future of our sport and the present, too.”
Nadal had lost 8 of his last 9 five-set matches in which he was down 2 sets to 1.
Before this Australian Open, Jennifer Brady had never made the made draw of a major, this year the American made her first main draw be going through qualifying and is in the fourth round in Melbourne.
Brady upset 14th seed Elena Vesnina 7-6 (4), 6-2. Brady survived five match points to win against Britain’s Heather Watson in the second round.
“It feels amazing,” Brady said in her news conference. “I mean, you know, coming here, being in the qualifying, you know, I didn’t expect to, you know, make it all the way until second week.
“One of my goals, actually, was, you know, in the next couple years to be playing in the second week of a Grand Slam. I sat down and had that discussion with my coaches and, you know, the rest of my team — when was it? A couple months ago.”
Mirjana Lucic-Baroni won 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 win over Maria Sakkari. Nineteen years ago Lucic-Baroni won her last match in Melbourne as a teenager. The 34-year-old broke a record for the longest period between match wins at a major with the win on Saturday.
“It’s been so long, and my career has been so long and stop and go and all that stuff,” Lucic-Baroni said. “But I just take it, every win, it really is a big deal for me. It is like winning a tournament. I celebrate it.
“I don’t take losses well. I have gotten better over the years, but I really want to take my time and enjoy and celebrate my wins, and especially my big wins.
“And today it was really difficult. I’m really proud of myself. I enjoyed that I found the way to win.”
2014 finalist and sixth seed Dominka Cibulkova pushed 30th seed Ekaterina Makarova to a third set after rallying from a set and 0-4 down in the second set but lost 6-2, 6-7(3), 6-3.
“An amazing fight. I got, to be honest, a bit tight at 4-0 in the second set,” Makarova said after the match. “I want to enjoy my win today. It’s my first over Dominika, and she’s a great player.”
“I never beat Dominika before. But I lost two times in three sets, and I knew that it would be tough match, tough battle. And she fight until the end.
“Even I was winning 6-2, 4-Love, then maybe two games a little bit — I got tight, yeah. I really wanted to win the match. But after that, she play amazing tennis.
“It was tough in the end of the second set, and all third set, I think it was such a great tennis and fighting tennis. And I’m so happy that I could stay with all my focus and with my aggressive game.”
Makarova will play Johanna Konta match next.
Ninth seed Johanna Konta dismissed former No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki 6-1, 6-3 to advance. She hasn’t lost a set this tournament.
“Every time we play, we have a battle,” Kota said of Makarova. “I think last year was 8-6 in the third. Actually we played out on Margaret Court. I remember that was a high-level match from both of us. That was really a great match to be a part of.
“I’m looking forward to the challenge, the battle again. She had a great match against Dominika. Dominika is not an easy player to beat, and she was able to do that. She’s playing obviously great tennis.
“I think she really enjoys playing here. She always seems to do well on these courts. I’m looking forward to it. We’ll deal with whatever challenges come up the next day.”
On the men’s side of the draw, No. 11 David Goffin won 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 win over No. 20 Ivo Karlovic. Goffin will play Dominic Thiem in the round of 16. The 8th seeded Austrian beat Benoit Paire 6-1, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4.
“I had a really good start, obviously,” Thiem said. “I mean, he was not really there in the beginning. He was giving me the set almost, and then he changed his game a little bit. He was playing much better. I didn’t know the right answers straightaway.
“Yeah, it was set 2 until set 4 was really close and tight match with a lot of breaks. Yeah, could be easily a fifth, but I’m happy to be through in four.”
Denis Istomin followed his dramatic upset win over six-time and defending champion Novak Djokovic winning 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2over Pablo Carreno Busta.
More to follow…..