Australian Open 2017: Venus Williams reaches third round

Angelique Kerber celebrated her 29th birthday with a shaky 6-2 6-7 (3) 6-2 win over Carina Witthoeft at the Australian Open on Wednesday but the world number one will have much to ponder in her title defence once the candles are blown out. The 22-year-old, on the comeback trail after her high-flying career plunged into a tailspin, came through a testing tiebreaker to win 7-6 (7/5), 6-2 on Hisense Arena and keep her Grand Slam dreams alive.

The opening Grand Slam tournament of the year gets under way Monday at Melbourne Park, with top-seeded Andy Murray and Angelique Kerber set to play their first-round matches at the Australian Open.

Two other Americans joined Venus in the third round with victories on Wednesday. But she lost focus and her countrywoman made the most of it, breaking back with some pinpoint shots from the baseline. After falling behind a set and a break, many thought that Witthoeft would lose the confidence and momentum, but she proved everyone wrong when she broke back to level the match at 2-2 after Kerber looked very leaky on her forehand.

The 36-year-old Williams, who has never won the Australian Open, has already improved on last year's showing in Melbourne, when she lost in the first round. The world number one took the next three games for a five-game stretch that gave her the match. Williams said. "I've played some of the greats".

Serena and Venus Williams have pulled out of their scheduled first-round doubles match because of a right elbow injury to Venus, who won her singles match earlier Wednesday in straight sets over Stefanie Voegele.

On the men's side, fifth-ranked Kei Nishikori reached the third round with a 6-3, 6-4, 6-3 win over Jeremy Chardy and No 12 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga beat Dusan Lajovic 6-2, 6-2, 6-3.

In the second set, the hard serving Lesia held serve until she was broken in the ninth game. Eighth seed Svetlana Kuznetsova beat Jamiee Fourlis, 6-2, 6-1. The first set brought a real feast of breaks, with 5 in 6 games in the middle of the set, Svitolina stole rival's serve 3 times in succession and claimed the opener by 6-4, with a love service game.

A Top 10 casualty was No. 10 Carla Suarez Navarro, who was ousted by Romanian Sorana Cirstea 7-6 (1), 6-3.

There was better news for Venus Williams, a 6-3 6-2 victor over Stefanie Voegele, and French Open title-holder Garbine Muguruza, who defeated Samantha Crawford 7-5 6-4.

  • Rosalie Stanley