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January 22, 2020 Women's Singles 2nd Round Rod Laver Arena
January 22, 2020 Women's Singles 2nd Round Rod Laver Arena

Serena rides second wind to third round

Serena Williams advanced her quest for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title on Wednesday, moving past Slovenian world No.70 Tamara Zidansek to reach the third round at Melbourne Park.  

Williams recorded the 87th Australian Open singles match-win of her storied career with a 6-2 6-3 dismissal of Zidansek, who tested her opponent in the second set but could not halt the American’s progress.

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22 Jan 20
Tamara Zidansek vs. Serena Williams - Match Highlights (R2) | Australian Open 2020

Serena strolls through

Video

Zidansek was bidding for the first top-10 win of her career, in just her third encounter with a player from that ranking bracket.

Williams, now a perfect 6-0 this season after picking up her first title as a mother in Auckland earlier this month, next takes on No.27 seed Wang Qiang, who she beat in the US Open quarterfinals last September.

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Williams had to work for it in the second set, but advanced without incident

“It was a good match for me, she was a real good fighter and she didn’t just let me win,” Williams told compatriot Jim Courier in her post-match on-court interview. 

MORE: All the results from Day 3 in Melbourne

“Everyone plays me like that though, so it’s nothing new. I was up 40-0 on both of her serves, so I was frustrated. I hit many errors and had to battle through my own internal problems. 

“I knew I had to play better, I couldn’t keep making unforced errors like that. I knew I had to step up, or it was going to be a really long evening for me.”

A mother to two-year-old daughter Olympia, a businesswoman with a fashion company among other ventures, as well as a 23-time major champion, Williams was asked by Courier how she juggles it all.

“It’s not easy, some days are definitely harder than others, I’m running a full-time company and this morning I’m sending emails about our March designs. Being a mom is very special to me, it’s the best thing I’ve done. I’m really hands-on. I’m a little obsessed, but I love it, I love every aspect of it, it’s so fun,” she said.

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Serena's groundstrokes were on song late in the match

Williams kicked off proceedings with a service break. A fierce forehand winner from Zidansek saw the Slovenian create a break point opportunity in game four, but Williams still served her way to a hold. The seven-time champion extended her advantage and was soon up 5-1.

The American got her hands on a first set point on a netted backhand from Zidansek, but the 22-year-old swatted it away to cut her deficit.

Williams comfortably wrapped up the opening set in 31 minutes, dropping just one point on her first serve along the way.

‘I knew I had to step up, or it was going to be a really long evening for me’
Serena Williams

Williams kept up the pressure on the Zidansek serve, as the Doha resident had to fight back from 0-40 holes on multiple occasions. She enjoyed some success when she moved Williams around the court, sending down slices and drop shots when possible, to surprise her experienced opponent.

The world No.9 grew increasingly frustrated by her missed opportunities and she gave out a huge ‘come on’ after she fended off three break points to hold for 3-3 in the second set. 

With rain seeing the roof on Rod Laver Arena closed, Williams produced some punishing returns to go up 0-40 once again on the Zidansek serve. This time, the 38-year-old converted on her first chance of the game to march ahead 4-3.

A return winner gave Williams the victory on the 78-minute mark, along with a place in the last 32.

During her post-match interview, a video of Williams performing a dance routine with Coco Gauff, fitness guru Shaun T and others, during their preseason training organised by her coach Patrick Mouratoglou was displayed on the big screen on Rod Laver Arena. The dance ends with an impressive split from Williams.

“We had a lot of fun. We love to dance, oh gosh. Are they going to show the end?” laughed Williams as she watched along with the fans in the stands.

“Whenever I see Coco, we always still do our return, we had like two days to rehearse it. We had winter training for tennis in Boca Raton, and my coach brought people from his academy. We wanted to bring fun to it, we had dance, we had tennis we had boxing. It was great fun.”

That preseason training block seems to have worked because Williams is undefeated in 2020, and is raring to go.

Serena strolls through

Video