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Serena wins, achieves more milestones

MELBOURNE, Australia — Five-time champion Serena Williams has won more matches at the Australian Open than any other woman, notching career win No. 61 early today and reaching the fourth round with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Daniela Hantuchova.

On another scorching day at Melbourne Park, Williams converted her fourth match point on No. 31 seed Hantuchova's serve. It was Williams' 24th consecutive win on tour dating to August and improved her Australian Open career record to 61-8, surpassing Margaret Court. Williams also matched Lindsay Davenport's record of 69 main-draw Australian Open matches in the Open era, meaning she will set another record just by showing up Sunday against the winner of the night match between Tampa resident Sam Stosur and Ana Ivanovic.

The temperature hit 102 for early play and was expected to reach 111.

"It was a tough match … it's definitely hot, but you have to be ready to play," Williams said.

Later, the women's No. 1 seed and sister Venus withdrew from the doubles competition shortly before their first-round match was scheduled to be played. Tournament officials said Venus has a lower left leg injury.

No. 9 Angelique Kerber advanced earlier with a 6-3, 6-4 win over American Alison Riske and said her main aim had been to "get off the court before it became really hot." Kerber next plays No. 28 Flavia Pennetta, who advanced 6-1, 7-5 over Mona Barthel.

Fourth-seeded Li Na broke Lucie Safarova in the second set when Safarova was serving for the match and won 1-6, 7-6 (7-2), 6-3. Li joked that the heat wave wasn't warm enough, so she wanted to play three sets.

Third-seeded David Ferrer advanced with a 6-2, 7-6 (7-5), 6-2 win over Jeremy Chardy. The Spaniard has reached at least the fourth round for 15 consecutive Grand Slam tournaments, dating to Wimbledon in 2010.

Officials invoked the extreme heat policy Thursday and suspended play for four hours on outdoor courts and closed the retractable roofs. That allowed players such as No. 1 Rafael Nadal, No. 6 Roger Federer and No. 2 Victoria Azarenka to play indoors.

"I never actually experienced the heat," said Federer, who won easily.

No. 25 seed Alize Cornet played outside and sobbed on the court. American Varvara Lepchenko said her body broke down during a three-set loss. She was dizzy and couldn't see the ball.

Later in the day after temperatures dipped, American Sloane Stephens saw "crazy, ridiculous" lightning zig-zagging through the sky, which caused another delay.

A cold front moves in Saturday with forecasters predicting a high of 73.

Serena wins, achieves more milestones 01/16/14 [Last modified: Thursday, January 16, 2014 11:53pm]

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