Just like home for Djokovic and Serena Williams at the Australian Open
No 1 seeds love the Rod Laver Arena ... and with a combined 11 titles in Melbourne, it is not hard to understand why as they march into the third round
There’s no doubt Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams feel right at home on Rod Laver Arena, where they’ve won a combined 11 Australian Open titles.
With five, Djokovic has already won more Australian titles than any other man in the Open era.
On Wednesday night, he beat 19-year-old French wild-card entry Quentin Halys 6-1, 6-2, 7-6 (7-3) to reach the third round for the 10th straight year, moving another step closer to equalling the all-time record of six Australian titles set by Roy Emmerson in the 1960s when it was amateur.
Halys was overawed to start with, losing the first seven points and facing triple break point before he managed to hold serve in a game lasting 10 minutes. He was level for a couple of minutes, before Djokovic went on a roll to win the next seven games.
Djokovic lost only one match at a grand slam tournament last year – the French Open final. At Melbourne Park, he has lost only one match in the previous five tournaments. He gives even the second-round matches a sense of occasion.
“This court just gives me so many beautiful memories, wonderful time,” Djokovic said. “Every time I step on the court it feels special.”
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, an all-time record 79th main draw match at the Australian Open.
“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 honour,” 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.”
For a long time, Rod Laver Arena just about belonged to Roger Federer. The four-time champion may not have won a title there since 2010, but he has extended his streak of reaching the third round at the Australian Open to 17 consecutive years.
Federer, playing his 65th consecutive major, advanced 6-3, 7-5, 6-1 over Alexandr Dolgopolov. It was his 299th match win at a major.
He lost in the third round in his first two trips to Melbourne Park in 2000 and 2001 and again last year – in between he won the title four times and lost one final during a run of reaching the semi-finals or better in 11 straight years.
“It’s the least I expect to be in the third round of a slam, obviously, so I’m pumped up, playing well, feeling good. But there’s always a danger, you know. Like last year the third round was the end for me, so I hope to go further this time.”
Federer will next play Grigor Dimitrov, who has a style that has been compared with Federer’s, after the No 27-seeded player beat Marco Trungelliti 6-3, 4-6, 6-2, 7-5.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga went to the aid of a ball girl in his match, gently helping her off the court in the third set when she became ill before finishing off a 7-5, 6-1, 6-4 win over Omar Jasika.
Other seeded players joining in the third round included No 6 Tomas Berdych, No 7 Kei Nishikori, 2014 US Open champion Marin Cilic, No 14 Gilles Simon, No 15 David Goffin, No 19 Dominic Thiem and No 24 Roberto Bautista Agut.
In the biggest upset of the day, two-time Wimbledon champion and sixth-seeded Petra Kvitova was beaten 6-4, 6-4 by Russian-born Australian Daria Gavrilova.
Williams’ next opponent will be 18-year-old Russian Daria Kasatkina, who beat Croatia’s Ana Konjuh 6-4, 6-3, and she faces a potential quarter-final match against 2015 finalist Maria Sharapova, who reached the third round with a 6-2, 6-1 win over Aliaksandra Sasnovich.
Williams was on course for a calendar-year grand slam last year with wins in Melbourne and at the French Open and Wimbledon before a semi-final loss at the US Open to Roberta Vinci of Italy.
No 13 Vinci beat Irina Falconi 6-2, 6-3 to advance, and is a potential fourth-round rival for No 4 Agnieszka Radwanska, who beat Eugenie Bouchard 6-4, 6-2 in a match featuring two former Wimbledon finalists.
No 10 Carla Suarez Navarro and No 12 Belinda Bencic advanced along with 92nd-ranked Kateryna Bondarenko, who earned one of her biggest wins since returning from retirement in 2014 with a straight sets win over two-time major winner and No 23-seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova.