MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Serena Williams got on and off court as quickly as she could in the scorching heat Friday, registering yet another record with match win No. 61 at the Australian Open as she advanced to the fourth round with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Daniela Hantuchova.
The five-time Australian Open champion later withdrew from the doubles, avoiding any extra exposure to the blazing sun during the once-in-a-century heat wave that was gripping Melbourne for a fourth straight day.
Two-time finalist Li Na, the major threat to top-ranked Williams in the top half of the women's draw, had to save a match point before coming back to beat No. 26-seeded Lucie Safarova 1-6, 7-6 (2), 6-3 in 2 hours, 37 minutes.
Li, the 2011 French Open champion, later joked that she needed the match practice "because I think the weather is not warm enough."
Williams didn't face any serious danger in her win over No. 31-seeded Hantuchova, whose only win in 10 head-to-head matches came in the corresponding round at the 2006 Australian Open.
Williams was off the court in 1 hour, 20 minutes, and has conceded just 12 games in three straight-set wins this week.
She equaled Margaret Court's Australian Open mark of 60 match wins with her second-round victory, and beat that in the third round when she also matched Lindsay Davenport's record of 69 main-draw matches here in the Open era. That means she'll set another record just by showing up on Sunday against former No. 1-ranked Ana Ivanovic, who beat 2011 U.S. Open champion Sam Stosur 6-7 (8), 6-4, 6-2 in a night match.
"It was a tough match ... it's definitely hot, but you have to be ready to play," she said. "And then you have to prepare yourself mentally, too."
The temperature hit 39 Celsius (102 Fahrenheit) during Williams' match and topped 42 C (108 F) by the mid-afternoon, but humidity remained low and there was no reason for organizers to invoke the Extreme Heat Policy and suspend matches for the second day in a row. The temperatures dipped to 32 C (90 F) before the night matches as a cool change kicked in, and dropped by another 10 degrees before play ended Friday.
Continue reading this story on the...