MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Serena Williams has had so much success for such a long time that even in a second-round match she can set a record at the season’s first Grand Slam event.
The six-time and defending champion beat No. 90-ranked Hsieh Su-wei 6-1, 6-2 on Wednesday at Rod Laver Arena, an all-time record 79th main draw match at the Australian Open.
She closed with an ace, her seventh, finishing in precisely an hour.
“It all started here — this is where I played my first Grand Slam right on this court and I’m still going, it’s such an honor,” said Williams, who has a 70-9 win-loss record at Melbourne Park since her debut in 1998. “I love it every time I come here.”
She hit 26 winners, including one around the post that she thought may have been a first for her, at age 34.
“My first one I think,” she said. “I was like, “Yay. Never too late.”
She faces a potential quarterfinal match against Maria Sharapova, which would be a rematch of the 2015 final.
Sharapova reached the third round with a 6-2, 6-1 win over Aliaksandra Sasnovich in the first match completed on day three, when light rain caused an hour-long delay getting started on the outside courts.
The fifth-seeded Sharapova won the 2008 Australian title and has lost three finals at Melbourne Park.
She dropped two service games in the first set, including once when serving at 5-1, but was otherwise consistent except for some over-hit ground strokes.
“To come back here and play my first match on Rod Laver is always very special as you always get those first little jitters out of the way.”
Kateryna Bondarenko earned one of her biggest wins since returning from retirement after having a baby in 2013, beating two-time major winner and No. 23-seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-1, 7-5.
The 92nd-ranked Bondarenko is playing only her second Grand Slam tournament since returning to the tour in 2014.
Seventh-seeded Kei Nishikori, the 2014 U.S. Open finalist, advanced to the third round in the men’s draw with a 6-3, 7-6 (5), 6-3 win over Austin Krajicek.