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Serena nabs record win to reach fourth round

ESPN staff
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Serena Williams sealed her 61st victory at the Australian Open - more than any other woman © Getty Images
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Five-time champion Serena Williams now has won more matches at the Australian Open than any other woman, making it career win No. 61 in scorching conditions on Friday as she advanced to the fourth round with a 6-3 6-3 victory over Daniela Hantuchova.

Williams converted her fourth match point on Hantuchova's serve to finish it off in one hour, 20 minutes, keeping her time on court to a minimum during the once-in-a-century heat wave gripping Melbourne. She has dropped only 12 games in three straight-sets wins this week.

World No. 1 Williams equalled Margaret Court's Australian Open mark of 60 wins with her second-round victory, and on Friday she matched Lindsay Davenport's record of 69 main-draw matches here in the Open era. That means she'll set another record just by showing up on Sunday, against the winner of the night match between 2011 US Open champion Samantha Stosur and Ana Ivanovic.

The temperature hit 39 degrees Centigrade during Williams' match and climbed to 42 degrees later on Friday.

"It was a tough match. It's definitely hot, but you have to be ready to play," she said. "And then you have to prepare yourself mentally, too."

Williams has won 24 matches dating back to August, carrying momentum from her dominating 2013 into a new season. She won 78 of her 82 matches and won 11 titles last year, and seems to be getting better with age.

"I feel like, in life 32 is young. In sports it's old," she said. "But for whatever reason, I feel like I just never was really able to reach my full potential, and I feel like recently I just have been able to do a little better. I just keep trying to improve on everything."

Williams was entered in the doubles with sister Venus but withdrew after her singles match, citing a leg left injury for Venus, which saved her from another match in the blazing heat in the afternoon.

"I love playing doubles, love playing with Venus, but sometimes it doesn't work out," she said. "I guess it's a relief, but like I say, we love to play doubles and we love to be out there ... so I'll definitely miss it."

Rod Laver Arena was about three-quarters full for the match, although it was a quiet crowd - people seemed to be expending more energy fanning themselves with programs and newspapers than applauding points on the court.

There were a few shouts of encouragement when Williams broke early in the second set, but the crowd grew more vocal when Hantuchova broke back in the sixth game to make it three-all.

Williams will now face Ana Ivanovic, who came from behind to win an epic tussle with home favourite Sam Stosur 6-7(8) 6-4 6-2.

Roared on by the Australian crowd, Stosur took the first set in an 18-point tie-break, but Ivanovic recovered and broke the very first game of the second set. The world No. 14 never looked back and the combination of solid serving and too many unforced errors from Stosur proved vital.

"I think I will have to play twice my best against Serena," Ivanovic, who has never even taken a set off the younger Williams sister in the four times the pair have met, said.

Elsewhere, fourth seed Li Na broke Lucie Safarova's serve in the second set when she was serving for the match and came back for a 1-6 7-6(2) 6-3 win.

The victory came despite an out-of-sorts Li serving inconsistently and failing to take advantage of key break-point chances for much of the first two sets. But Li, a two-time finalist, dominated the tiebreaker, then broke Safarova in the eighth game of the deciding set before serving out.

She later joked that the heat wave wasn't warm enough so she wanted to play three sets.

Na will face Ekaterina Makarova in the fourth round after the Russian advanced with a 6-4 6-4 win over Monica Niculescu.

Angelique Kerber breezed past Alison Riske 6-3 6-4 and said her main aim had been to "get off the court before it became really hot." Kerber will next play Flavia Pennetta, who beat Mona Barthel 6-1 7-5 .

Canada's Eugenie Bouchard beat Lauren Davis 6-2 6-2. The 30th seed will now face Australian Casey Dellacqua, who eased past Jie Zheng 6-2 6-4.

Parts of this report originally appeared on ESPN.com

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