Serena Williams rolls into 3rd round
MELBOURNE, Australia -- Serena Williams wore a fitted pink blazer into her second-round match at the Australian Open, giving the impression she wasn't feeling the heat.
After her 6-1, 6-2 win over Vesna Dolonc on Wednesday, the second consecutive scorching day at the season's first major, Williams said she could remember hotter matches.
By extending her winning stretch to 24 matches dating back to August and improving her career mark to 60-8 at Melbourne Park, she equaled Margaret Court's record of 60 match wins at the Australian Open in the Open era.
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Court, who won seven of her 11 Australian titles before the Open era began in 1968, has a show court named in her honor adjacent to Rod Laver Arena.
On Day 3 at Melbourne Park, the center court was -- at least according to two fans holding up a sign -- "Serena's Arena."
"I just try to hit a bunch of aces and a bunch of winners -- that's all you can do because it's too hot to get into long rallies," she said.
Williams fended off the only break point she faced with an ace, one of her 10 in the match. She hit 24 winners, sticking to the strategy for a hot day.
She said she didn't even go outside Tuesday because she heard the conditions "were a little bit extreme," adding that the prospect of the scorching temperatures interrupted her sleep.
"I kept waking up in the middle of the night last night just paranoid. I just wanted to stay hydrated," she said. "The last thing I want to do is to cramp in this weather. It can happen so easy."
Temperatures topped 108 degrees Tuesday, and there were a total of nine retirements in the first round, equaling a Grand Slam record. It wasn't quite as stifling Wednesday, due to some cloud cover and less of the hot wind. The forecast is for the heat wave to continue until Friday.
Li Na opened proceedings Wednesday and completed back-to-back wins over the two youngest players in the draw.
The 2011 French Open champion, a two-time finalist at Melbourne Park, raced through the first set against 16-year-old Belinda Bencic in 22 minutes, conceding just 10 points. She had to work harder in the second before winning 6-0, 7-6 (5).
Li, from Wuhan, one of the three "Stove Cities" in central China renowned for hot temperatures, turns 32 next month. In the first round, she dropped just two games as she beat 16-year-old Ana Konjuh, the youngest player in the tournament.
"It's warm, but it's OK," Li said.
No. 17 Samantha Stosur is through to the third round of her home Grand Slam for the first time in three years after a 6-2, 6-0 win over Tsvetana Pironkova. No. 30 Eugenie Bouchard of Canada beat Virginie Razzano 6-2, 7-6 (10) and Zheng Jie defeated American Madison Keys 7-6 (5), 1-6, 7-5.
The players are finding ways to cope with the heat, using ice vests and wet towels in the changeovers. In Wednesday's first match on Margaret Court Arena, the heat rule went into effect, allowing No. 15-seeded Sabine Lisicki and Monica Niculescu a 10-minute break after the second set.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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