MELBOURNE, Australia — Title favorite Serena Williams and defending champion Victoria Azarenka advanced in contrasting styles Saturday to the fourth round of the Australian Open.
Williams, aiming for a third consecutive major title, recovered from a breakdown in the second set to win six straight games and finish off a 6-1, 6-3 win over Japan’s Ayumi Morita in 66 minutes.
The 15-time major winner even surprised herself with another serve at 128 mph (207 kph), matching her career fastest serve she hit earlier in the tournament.
“I tried to hit it really hard. I hit 207 (kph) the other day and I thought it was luck," she said. “But I did it again and I was like whew! I’m going to try to go for 210. We’ll see."
Top-ranked Azarenka struggled to hold off injured American Jamie Hampton 6-4, 4-6, 6-2, and didn’t help herself with six double-faults.
Elsewhere, two-time major winner Svetlana Kuznetsova advanced with a 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 win over Spain’s Carla Suarez Navarro.
On Friday night, Maria Sharapova celebrated with extra exuberance after her 6-1, 6-3 win over Venus Williams, her first victory over the seven-time major winner in a Grand Slam.
“I was just really pumped," she said. “Why shouldn’t I be?"
Top-ranked Novak Djokovic took another step closer to a third consecutive Australian title, defeating Radek Stepanek 6-4, 6-3, 7-5 in the third round.
Djokovic will play Sunday against No. 15 Stanislas Wawrinka, who knocked out the last American man in the draw with a 7-6 (6), 7-5, 6-4 win over No. 20 Sam Querrey.
U.S. Open champion Andy Murray advanced to the fourth round of a Grand Slam for the 19th consecutive time with a 6-3, 6-4, 7-5 win over Lithuanian qualifier Ricardas Berankis.
Fourth-seeded David Ferrer finished off a 6-4, 6-2, 6-3 win over 2006 Australian finalist Marcos Baghdatis with an ace, advancing to a fourth-round match against Japan’s Kei Nishikori.
No. 5 Tomas Berdych beat Austria’s Jurgen Melzer 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 and will next play South Africa’s Kevin Anderson.