Slovakian Daniela Hantuchova played a fine contest in challenging Serena Williams in their third round contest, but she would have had to put on a performance of a lifetime to score a win and could not in the American’s 6-3 6-3 victory over her.
With the victory, the great Williams set an all-time Australian Open record with her 61st singles victory at Melbourne Park, passing the legendary Margaret Court in the history books.
Williams, who has won five titles at Melbourne Park and has been playing the tournament since 1998, was broken for the first time in the tournament in the match but it didn't matter, as she played cleanly enough to dispatch the former world No.4. It was the eighth time she has taken down the Slovakian at a major, but only the first time she has beat her at the Australian Open.
As she almost always does, Serena served effectively, combining big blasts with precise ones, and attacked her opponent’s serve, winning 50 per cent of Hantuchova’s second serve points. She broke her on three occasions, and nailed 25 winners overall to just 10 from her foe.
Williams has been working on incorporating more net rushes into her attack but she struggled approaching the cords during the late morning, only converting four of 12 net rushes. However, she won the first set with a beautiful drop volley.
Hantuchova, who reached her sole Grand Slam semifinal at the Australian Open in 2008, pushed hard in the second set, breaking Williams at love to 3-3.
However, the 32-year-old Williams played a savvy game to break right back, when the Slovak erred on an inside out backhand.
Williams then held to 5-3 and broke Hantuchova to win the match when she wrong-footed her opponent with a crisp forehand down the line.
The 17-time Grand Slam winner is looking to win her first Australian Open title since 2010. Williams has been troubled by ankle injuries the past two years, falling to Ekaterina Makarova in 2012 and to Sloane Stephens in 2013.
She will play the winner of the match between Australian Samantha Stosur and Serbia’s Ana Ivanovic.