Australian Open 2017: Serena Williams and Rafael Nadal reach round three

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Australian Open 2017
Venue: Melbourne Park, Melbourne Dates: 16-29 Jan
Coverage: Daily live commentary on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra; live text on selected matches on the BBC Sport website; TV highlights on BBC Two and online from 21 January.

Six-time champion Serena Williams and former winner Rafael Nadal both reached the Australian Open third round with straight-sets victories on Thursday.

Williams, 35, who is attempting to win an Open era record 23rd Grand Slam singles title, beat world number 61 Lucie Safarova 6-3 6-4 in Melbourne.

“I’m really happy to have got through that,” said the American second seed.

Nadal, who won the tournament in 2009, eased through 6-3 6-1 6-3 against 2006 finalist Marcos Baghdatis.

Williams beat 29-year-old Czech Safarova in the French Open final in 2015, and needed one hour and 25 minutes to see off the former top-10 player on Thursday.

“It’s never easy having to play in a second round against someone you have seen in a final,” she added. “I’ve played two former top-10 opponents, but it’s a great way to start the tournament.”

Williams lost the Australian Open final last year to Angelique Kerber, but went on to win at Wimbledon and equal Steffi Graf’s Open era record of 22 Grand Slam singles titles.

She will continue her bid for the record against 23-year-old Nicole Gibbs, who beat fellow American Irina Falconi 6-4 6-1.

Nadal to face ‘future world number one’

 

Nadal was a losing finalist at the Australian Open in 2012 and 2014

Fourteen-time Grand Slam winner Nadal will face promising teenager Alexander Zverev in the next round after the German beat 18-year-old American Frances Tiafoe 6-2 6-3 6-4.

Nadal, 30, says the 19-year-old world number 24 “can be a future world number one”.

“It will be a big challenge for me,” said Nadal. “He is a potential Grand Slam winner. He is a big, talented player. He is young and improving in every moment he is on the tour.”

Nadal lost in the first round in Melbourne for the first time in his career last year and, having pulled out of Wimbledon with a wrist injury, his best major result in 2016 proved to be a last-16 exit at the US Open.

The Spaniard has only played one tournament since October, reaching the quarter-finals at the Brisbane International earlier this month, but says he has “no injuries” after coming through against Baghdatis in two hours and 12 minutes.

“I can’t ask for more,” he said. “I have suffered injuries in my career, but I have had a lot of success and amazing memories from all the places I have played.

“I cannot complain. I am a lucky person and I am trying to enjoy every moment on court.”

Third seed Radwanska loses to world number 79

Poland’s world number three Agnieszka Radwanska suffered a surprise second-round exit to Croatia’s Mirjana Lucic-Baroni.

The 27-year-old, who has reached two semi-finals in Melbourne in the past three tournaments, lost 6-3 6-2 to the 34-year-old world number 79.

Fifth-seed Karolina Pliskova beat 18-year-old Russian qualifier Anna Blinkova 6-0 6-2 in 59 minutes, meaning the Czech has dropped just four games en route to the third round.

“I don’t want to say my opponent wasn’t that good, but I was better,” said the 24-year-old, who faces Latvia’s Jelena Ostapenko next.

Raonic fights cold to reach third round

Milos Raonic reached the Wimbledon final in 2016, which was his first appearance as a Grand Slam finalist

Third seed Milos Raonic reached the third round of the Australian Open for the seventh time with a 6-3 6-4 7-6 (7-4) win over Luxembourg’s Gilles Muller.

The Canadian 26, hit 21 aces as he set up a meeting with France’s Gilles Simon, who reached the quarter-finals in Melbourne in 2009.

“I started feeling a little bit of a cough but I didn’t think much of it, then this morning I felt pretty bad waking up,” he said.

“I came out with the sort of idea of put everything into the match, try to solve it, understand the importance of the mental side of things in that situation.”

World number 15 Grigor Dimitrov also moved into the next round with a 1-6 6-4 6-4 6-4 victory over Korea’s Chung Hye-on.

He will face France’s Richard Gasquet after his 6-1 6-1 6-1 win over Argentine Carlos Berlocq. Former world number three David Ferrer beat American qualifier Ernesto Escobedo 2-6 6-4 6-4 6-2 to set up a tie with Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut.

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