Venus Williams sets up Sharapova clash in Melbourne, Stosur out

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Germany’s Angelique Kerber, seeded 5th at this year’s Aussie Open, was first up on the Margaret Court Arena on Wednesday morning. She played the Czech Lucie Hradecka, who is ranked at 51 in singles (but 4 in doubles). Kerber made a shaky start to this match, as she battle in each game up to 5-2 when served for the first set, but was eventually broken by Hradecka. This was only a temporary blip, as the German then broke back to take this long set 6-3 in 47 minutes. The second set was much easier for the leftie 5th seed, who took it 6-1 in 22 minutes, to move into the round of 32 where she will meet the American, Madison Keys, who was a surprise winner over the 30th seed, Tamira Paszek.

With the hopes of her nation heavily on her shoulders, Sam Stosur, the 9th seed, took to the court to play against the unseeded world number 40 Jie Zheng of China, in the third match on Rod Laver Arena. Stosur has never done well at the Aussie Open and in 2012, as the US Open champion, lost in the first round; and Zheng beat her in the first round in Sydney last week. In the first set there were a host of service breaks to 4-4 before the Chinese player served for the set a 5-4, which she eventually took on her eighth set point. In the second set Stosur dropped her first game, but reeled off the next six games to take the set 6-1 and give her supporters hope. The decider started with breaks of serve yet again, until Stosur went ahead 5-2, seemingly with a win in sight, but she let the weight of her task get to her and allowed Zheng to level at 5-5 and then go on to take the next two games as well, for a 7-5 set to the disappointment of her fans.

In the first night match on Rod Laver Arena, the 25th seed Venus Williams faced Alize Cornet of France, ranked at 41. Cornet broke in the first game and held for 2-0 but the indomitable Williams levelled at 2-2 and went ahead 4-2 before Cornet came back to 3-4, but Williams went on to take the set 6-3 with some fine tennis being played by both players. The second set went with serve until cornet broke to go up 3-2, but that was the last game she won, as the American took the next four games and the set, 6-3. She will meet Maria Sharapova in the round of 32 in what could be a great match.

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