MELBOURNE, Australia – Serena Williams moved one step closer with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Tamara Zidansek and reached the third round at the Australian Open.
Williams won the last of her seven Australian Open titles in 2017, but hasn't added a major championship since. She took a break from the tour to have her daughter Olympia and has lost four Grand Slam finals in the past two seasons. Her title in Auckland, New Zealand was her first touring level in almost three years.
38-year-old Williams dominated in the first set, but slowed down in the second when the roof was closed due to rain. The 70-year-old Zidansek saved the first seven breakpoint opportunities she was faced with.
"I knew I had to improve, otherwise it would be a very long evening for me," said Williams.
Coco Gauff used to advance to the third round, but it was not easy. Gauff recovered from a rough start and scored a 4: 6, 6: 3, 7: 5 victory over Soran Cirstea. With the hard-fought victory, Gauff started another Grand Slam showdown against Naomi Osaka, who scored a 6-2, 6-4 win over Zheng Saisai.
Less than five months after their memorable meeting at the US Open, Osaka won this in two sets, then consoled a crying Gauff in court and encouraged them to turn to the audience – the two will meet again. As at that time, Osaka is the reigning master of the major and Gauff makes her tournament debut.
"I think I'm less nervous this time," said Gauff, who eliminated seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams on Monday in the first round. "I think I'm more confident this time."