MELBOURNE, Australia — Serena Williams cautiously walked onto the court and tried to keep the points short to avoid irritating her injured right ankle as she advanced to the third round at the Australian Open.
Summoning all her experience from 15 major titles, including the final two of the last season, Williams lifted her tempo on the biggest points, winning an 18-minute game to open the second set and finally cashing in on her fourth break chance. Nineteen minutes later, she finished a 6-2, 6-0 win over No. 112-ranked Garbine Muguruza of Spain this morning.
Apart from a swollen lip from hitting herself in the face with her racket in the sixth game, she emerged unscathed.
"It feels better," Williams said of her ankle. Before the match, "I was just doing everything you can do — icing to massage. I woke up this morning and thought … 'Oh my God, it feels good.'
"I'll keep my fingers crossed."
U.S. Open champion Andy Murray had another easy win, 6-2, 6-2, 6-4 over Joao Sousa of Portugal.
Murray, who ended a 76-year drought by British men in Grand Slam tournaments with his win at Flushing Meadows last year, dropped only seven games in his opening match against Robin Haase of the Netherlands. This morning, the third-seeded Murray didn't allow Sousa a single break point chance.
Defending champion Victoria Azarenka practically danced into Rod Laver Arena for the match before Willliams' victory and said she's starting to find some rhythm after beating Eleni Daniilidou 6-1, 6-0 in 55 minutes.
With temperatures expected to top 102 degrees, Azarenka didn't want to be out in the heat.
"I felt like I'm back into the competitive mode," she said. "I was really focused; that was for sure the best part of the game for me."
The No. 94-ranked Daniilidou won only 10 points in the first set and was shut out in the second despite having triple break point in the fourth game.
The lopsided wins for Azarenka and Serena Williams came a day after No. 2-ranked Maria Sharapova recorded her second 6-0, 6-0 win of the tournament.
Sharapova overwhelmed Japan's Misaki Doi in 47 minutes, even less time than she needed to beat fellow Russian Olga Puchkova two days earlier in her first competitive match of 2013.