Serena Williams started proceedings on day 4 of the Aussie Open on Friday in blisteringly hot sunshine. Playing on the Rod Laver Arena against 31st seeded Daniela Hantuchova, the top seed was lethargic to start and the Slovak had chances, but the American’s ace count of ten (to two doubles) saw her take the set 6-3. By the end of the second set, Williams had made 18 unforced errors to 11 winners, but was still able to see out the set at 6-3 and move into the 4th round.
9th seeded Angelique Kerber was first up on the Hisense Arena where she played the 53rd ranked American, Alison Riske. Even though the powerful German won in straights 6-4 6-3, it was an intense battle from beginning to end. Both players are physically similar and baseliners, but in the gruelling heat they both came to the net on many occasions, trying to shorten the points. In the second set each players broke the other in the first eight games, but Kerber managed to get the vital hold in the 9th game and went on to serve out the set and take the match in 79 minutes.
Next up on the same court was last year’s losing finalist and 4th seed Na Li, who had a battle royal against 26th seeded Lucie Safarova. The Czech leftie came out of the blocks on fire and took the first set 6-1 in just 27 minutes. She then built up a 5-3 and match point lead, but Li fought hard to break back and the set eventually went to a breaker which Li won 7-2. The decider went with serve to the 7th game when Li managed to get the first break of the set. She broke again and served out the set at 6-3 for a great fight back win.