MELBOURNE – Ice-cool top seed Serena Williams stayed on track for her sixth Australian Open title Wednesday and denied feeling any pressure as the overwhelming favorite to win another Grand Slam title.
The world number one has been in ominous touch, winning 11 titles last year and opening 2014 with victory at the Brisbane International.
She has brought that form to Melbourne, dropping just six games so far, with her 6-1, 6-2 demolition of Serbia’s Vesna Dolonc setting up a third-round clash with either Daniela Hantuchova or Karolina Pliskova.
Williams, 32, raced through the match in oven-like conditions on Rod Laver Arena in just 63 minutes, with her booming serve proving the difference.
“She was actually a really good player,” insisted Williams. “She hit a lot of deep shots and she was extremely fast.”
The victory was yet another landmark for the American veteran, who is gunning to match the achievement of Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova in winning her 18th Grand Slam.
By beating Dolonc, she drew level with Margaret Court’s record in winning her 60th match at the Australian Open.
Williams has now played 68 times at Melbourne Park, with only Lindsay Davenport on 69 having graced the court more in the Open era.
“I’m still excited to just be here and be playing in front of this crowd. I’m happy to still be alive (in the tournament),” said Williams, who seemed to barely break a sweat.
Asked how she stayed so cool in the heat, she replied: “I don’t know, I just pretend that I’m in Hawaii and surfing a wave.”
With Williams beating defending Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka in the Brisbane final this month, she is considered a good bet to win in Melbourne, but she denied the expectations were getting to her.
“Well, to me there is always pressure. It always seems like I’m one of the favorites to win,” said Williams.
“But for me, I look at it as kind of exciting that I have an opportunity to go all the way.
“But with that being said, I have so many matches I have to win in order to do well and in order to lift the trophy. It’s such a long way.”
It was the first meeting between the pair with Dolonc never having gone beyond the second round at Melbourne before, in contrast to Williams who has won the event five times.
The powerful American welcomed the Serb by sending down 185 kilometre (115 miles) per hour rocket serves to take an early 1-0 lead, and then immediately got a break to take charge.
Dolonc had no answer to the American’s missiles with Williams showing no mercy in sending down four aces in her opening two games.
The Serb finally got on the scoreboard when Williams sent a forehand return long, but her luck soon ran out with the top seed’s superior ball-striking securing her the set as the temperature headed to 40 Celsius (104 Fahrenheit).
A double fault handed the American the break for 1-0 in the second set and the Serb made the same mistake again in the fifth game to give Williams a 4-1 advantage in the lopsided match.
She served out to seal a routine win.