Australian Open 2017

Venus Williams rolls back the years to reach Australian Open third round

American downs Switzerland’s Stefanie Voegele 6-3, 6-2 on Rod Laver Arena to set up meeting with either China’s Duan Yingying or compatriot Varvara Lepchenko

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 18 January, 2017, 10:22am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 18 January, 2017, 10:22am

Venus Williams rolled back the years on Wednesday with a straight-sets demolition of Switzerland’s Stefanie Voegele to move smoothly into the third round of the Australian Open.

The 13th seed, an eight-time quarter-finalist or better in Melbourne, won 6-3, 6-2 against a qualifier who had never been beyond round two.

Williams, the oldest player in the women’s draw at 36, will next play either China’s Duan Yingying or fellow American Varvara Lepchenko.

“I love being here and playing here,” said the American veteran. “I played an opponent who didn’t make it easy. It was a battle.”

The draw has opened up for Williams with fourth seed Simona Halep, whom she was scheduled to meet in the fourth round, already out.

In her 17th Australian Open, the most among active players together with sister Serena, Williams quickly raced to a 3-0 lead against Voegele, using her powerful groundstrokes to good effect.

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But the Swiss 26-year-old was up for a fight on Rod Laver Arena and she broke back with a crisp backhand down the line, then held serve to haul herself back into contention.

Jolted, Williams knuckled down and broke again in the ninth game to comfortably take the set.

It went with serve until the composed seven-time grand slam champion seized her opportunity in the fourth game after capitalising on errors to break and go 3-1 in front.

The American, who played her first Australian Open in 1998, was in cruise control and wrapped up the match with a pinpoint backhand in 83 minutes.