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Serena on the double

  • Michael Beattie

Serena Williams made light work of Eugenie Bouchard to bring her unbeaten stretch at Melbourne Park to nine matches, booking her spot in the third round of Australian Open 2019 with a scrappy 6-2 6-2 win on Thursday night. 

“It wasn’t an easy match tonight,” said Williams, who will face Ukrainian teen Dayana Yastremska for a place in the last 16. “Genie has been to the finals of Wimbledon and the semifinals of other Grand Slams, so I said, ‘You’ve got to come out hot, come out firing.’

“I haven’t had many matches since last year, but it’s okay. I got to spend time with my daughter, and that matters the most to me. I’ve always been told that they grow up so fast, so I wanted to be able to take that time and say I spent it with her. It means a lot to me.”

Williams took an early 3-0 lead and never looked back

In a strange statistical twist, each of Bouchard’s conquerors at Melbourne Park have all gone on to reach the semifinals or better, a testament to some rough draws for the former semifinalist in recent years – her last three defeats came against Agnieszka Radwanska, Coco Vandeweghe and Simona Halep, all before the fourth round. 

And second-round opponents don’t come much tougher than 23-time Grand Slam champion Williams, who was quickly into her stride. The 37-year-old picked up where she left off against Tatjana Maria in the first round, breaking twice for a 3-0 lead. 

Even the luck seemed to be on Serena’s side, as one forehand clipped the net-cord twice before dropping dead on the line in the next game. But the Canadian broke moments later, the second in a five-game streak of breaks that Williams ended with the new balls, sealing the opener with a smash off a desperate Bouchard return on her second set point.

Moments of brilliance flickered in what was an otherwise scrappy contest, with Bouchard keen to tee off on any ball she met with her feet set, and Williams looking to paint the lines in reply. The seven-time AO champion showed greater court craft and control in defence as Bouchard produced some fine shots from otherwise desperate situations to clinch her first holds of the match at the start of the second set.

From 2-2, however, Serena took control. Bouchard simply couldn’t live with her when the American finally found some rhythm and began dictating the rallies, and the errors were flowing from across the net once more. Another pair of breaks followed before Williams served out the win, ending the contest with a drive volley as the clock hit 70 minutes.