Melbourne: Serena Williams moved a step closer in her bid for a record 24th major title with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Tamara Zidansek to reach 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 then. She took time off the tour to have her daughter, Olympia, and has lost four Grand Slam finals in the last two seasons. Her title in Auckland, New Zealand recently was her first at tour-level in almost three years.
The 38-year-old Williams dominated in the first set but was slowed down slightly in the second, when the roof was closed because of rain, and the 70th-ranked Zidansek saved the first seven break-point chances she faced.
"I knew I had to step up, otherwise it was going to be a really long evening for me," Williams said.
Coco Gauff secures place in third round after losing first set
Coco Gauff beats Sorana Cirstea 4-6, 6-3, 7-5 to set up a third-round match against defending champion Naomi Osaka at the Australian Open.
The 15-year-old Gauff rallied after losing the first set and got the pivotal service break in the next-to-last game before serving out against 29-year-old Cirstea, who is playing at the Australian Open for a 12th time.
Gauff started the tournament with her second first-round win over Venus Williams in three majors, following her upset over the seven-time Grand Slam champion at last year's Wimbledon.
Gauff reached the fourth round on her Wimbledon debut and the third round at the US Open.
Home favourite Ashleigh Barty books place in third round
Top-ranked Ashleigh Barty has advanced to the third round at Melbourne Park with a 6-1, 6-4 win over Polona Hercog.
Home favorite Barty shook off a habit of losing the first set in recent matches to dominate early and set up a straight sets win.
In the second set, she saved three break points in the eighth game and broke Hercog in the next. Serving for the match, Barty still had to save two break points, one with an ace and the other with a service winner. She had another service winner on match point.
"I was glad I was able to save a few break points there in the second set," Barty said. "The wind was a huge factor."
Caroline Wozniacki keeps her farewell tournament going
Caroline Wozniacki has continued her farewell tournament by overcoming a 5-1 first-set deficit and beating Dayana Yastremska 7-5, 7-5 on her sixth match point in the second round.
Wozniacki has said she plans to retire after this Australian Open. The 2018 champion had three match points in the 10th game of the second set but Yastremska held in a game after she'd taken a medical timeout to treat her left leg.
Wozniacki eventually clinched it two games later with a service break, and wiped tears from her eyes.
Former No. 1-ranked Wozniacki will next play Ons Jabeur, who beat Caroline Garcia 1-6, 6-2, 6-3.
Petra Kvitova secures hard-fought second round win
Two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova saved three set points in the second set before beating Paula Badosa 7-5, 7-5 to advance to the third round.
Kvitova rallied from 0-40 down in the 10th game of the second set to hold serve and then broke in the next game to regain control of the match.
Kvitova lost last year's final here to Naomi Osaka, who also advanced on Wednesday to the third round.
Defending champion Naomi Osaka advances to third round
Defending champion Naomi Osaka overcame swirling winds on Margaret Court Arena to beat Zheng Saisai 6-2, 6-4 and advance to the third round.
Osaka became upset with herself at times. After having her service broken in the second set Osaka threw her racket to the ground, tossed a ball from her hand and kicked the racket along the court. She then sat in her court-side chair with a towel over her head. But she rallied back and clinched the match when Zheng double-faulted on match point.
Third-seeded Osaka said the best part about winning over Zheng was how she was able to deal with all the emotions.
"I hope you guys like the tennis that's coming after my match," third-seeded Osaka said, "because it wasn't that pretty."
Because of suspended matches from rain on Monday, eight first-round women's singles matches were not completed Tuesday. That meant Osaka had advanced to the third round before some of those players had finished their first.
In other second-round matches, No. 14 Sofia Kenin beat qualifier Ann Li 6-1, 6-3. Anett Kontaveit beat wild-card entry Astra Sharma 6-0, 6-2 in a first-round match.