Serena Williams Advances In Australian Open

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) – Serena Williams moved a step closer to successfully defending her Australian Open title and extracted some family revenge Saturday with a 6-0, 6-3 victory over Carla Suarez Navarro.

Last year, Suarez Navarro beat Venus Williams in the second round.

The Spaniard didn’t even get close this time.

Serena Williams’ only real difficulty was in closing the first set, needing eight set points in a game that went to deuce 13 times and lasted longer than the previous five games combined.

Suarez Navarro, a quarterfinalist last year, fended off two break points to hold serve in the opening game of the second set, the only time she was in front on the scoreboard.

Williams finished it off on her third match point in 1 hour, 21 minutes when Suarez Navarro sent a backhand long.

The top-ranked Williams, who has won the Australian title each odd-numbered year since beating sister Venus in the 2003 final, will next play No. 13 and local hope Sam Stosur, a 6-4, 6-1 winner over Italian Alberta Brianti.

Venus Williams faced Australian Casey Dellacqua later Saturday.

No. 7 Victoria Azarenka of Belarus had a 6-0, 6-2 win over Italy’s Tathiana Garbin in an early match to set up a fourth-round match against No. 9 Vera Zvonareva of Russia, who beat Argentina’s Gisela Dulko 6-1, 7-5.

Play started slightly late due to light drizzle around Melbourne, which cleared toward midday. It only took seconds for the first result to be registered, however, with No. 20 Mikhail Youzhny withdrawing from his scheduled third-round match against Poland’s Lukasz Kubot due to wrist pain.

Top-ranked Roger Federer was playing No. 31 Albert Montanes, and No. 3 Novak Djokovic, who beat Federer in the semifinals en route to his 2008 title here, was set to play Denis Istomin.

Kim Clijsters came to the Australian Open as an inspiration to her countrywomen and mothers everywhere after her unexpected U.S. Open victory.

Any chance of back-to-back major titles ended in 52 minutes Friday evening in a 6-0, 6-1 third-round loss to 19th-seeded Nadia Petrova. Also lost was the chance of a quarterfinal against fellow Belgian Justine Henin, a former No. 1 playing her first major in two years.

“I was completely off,” Clijsters said. “I think tennis-wise, I didn’t feel the ball at all.”

Defending champion Rafael Nadal also was upset with his game, although he had a victory to show for it – a 6-4, 6-2, 2-6, 7-5 decision over Germany’s Philipp Kohlscreiber at night.

“In the third, I started terrible, no?” the Spaniard said. “Everybody has not very good days.”

Juan Martin del Potro, who had a surprise win over Federer in the U.S. Open final last September, advanced Friday night along with No. 5 Andy Murray, Americans John Isner and Andy Roddick and Fernando Gonzalez of Chile.

Nadal will next play Ivo Karlovic, who downed Ivan Ljubicic 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7), and could play a quarterfinal against Murray, a 7-5, 6-1, 6-4 winner over Florent Serra of France.

But Murray has to first get past Isner, a 6-foot-9 American who won his first title last week in Auckland.

“I was just kind of riding a wave of momentum, and I still am,” Isner said after his 6-1, 4-6, 7-6 (4), 7-6 (5) win over No. 12 Gael Monfils. “Hopefully I can keep it going.”

No. 2 Dinara Safina and No. 3 Svetlana Kuznetsova went through and will be part of two all-Russian women’s matches in the last 16. Belgians Henin and Yanina Wickmayer will vie for a place in the quarterfinals.

Former No. 1-ranked Henin, who was inspired to come back to the tour after watching Clijsters and her toddler daughter, Jada, celebrating the championship at Flushing Meadows last September, found a way into the fourth round after recovering from a set and a break down to beat Alisa Kleybanova 3-6, 6-4, 6-2.

Kuznetsova, the French Open champion who no doubt expected to play Clijsters, is just happy to get a chance at fellow Russian Petrova after holding off Germany’s Angelique Kerber 3-6, 7-5, 6-4.

Clijsters only won five points in the the first seven games against Petrova.

“At some points I was just happy I was hitting a ball in,” she said. “That’s how bad it was.

“There were points where I really wanted to break my racket into pieces.”

Clijsters will be concentrating on family matters Saturday, not tennis.

“This is something probably you want to forget as soon as possible.”

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