Former world number one Serena Williams battles her way into the fourth round of the Australian Open after a scrappy 7-6(5) 6-2 win over Anastasia Potapova on Rod Laver Arena.
Williams, pursuing her 24th Grand Slam, had parted with just five games to reach the third round. But she was forced into her first tie-break of the tournament in the first set after a slow start against her Russian opponent.
Serena improved as the contest progressed and will play in-form Aryna Sabalenka in the next round.
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Highlights: Serena 'survives' battle with Potapova to progress
Potapova was serving for the set at 5-4 up and got herself two break points, but Serena recovered to hold. The 39-year-old got the match back on serve when Potapova double-faulted five times and dragged her 19-year-old opponent into a tie-break.
Serena went 5-3 down in the decider before rattling off four points in a row to somehow steal the set from Potapova’s grasp.
After Potapova broke in the opening game of the second set, the number ten seed broke straight back before going one up two games later.
Serena was making far less unforced errors than she was in the first set and settled into her usual powerful rhythm that ultimately sealed her passage into the second week.
SERENA: IT'S ABOUT SURVIVING
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“It feels good to be in the fourth round," she said post-match.
"It felt good to get through that match, it felt like I didn’t come out of the starting blocks like I would’ve liked to since I’ve been playing here but it’s about surviving and playing better every round."
On her outfit: “It’s so wild I keep debating which one is the best, I think this is one of the best ones. I keep thinking ‘how do I outdo it?’ but I think we outdid it this time it was pretty awesome.
“Nike had this incredible idea. I can’t take any credit for it. They came out with something fresh and were inspired by Flo-Jo who was an amazing American track star and she did have the one that was a little bit higher [on the leg] but I opted not to have that because I didn’t want to get any more fines so I thought it was best I had more of a leg out.”
On her daughter: “I’ve been talking to her about playing doubles with her here one day. She technically already has a title. It was only the thing we could do for a whole year socially-distanced with Covid so I thought ‘I would never put my daughter in tennis’ but then I think it’s the best socially distanced sport that she can play. She has a coach now and it’s a lot of fun. Her coach is awesome and a lot of fun.
"I’m thinking ‘my three-year-old daughter has a coach how ridiculous is that!'"
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