Serena Williams demonstrated her desire to defend her Australian Open title with a crushing straight sets win over the 32nd seed Carla Suarez Navarro in the third round. The world No 1 is a four-time winner at Melbourne Park but she has never successfully defended her title. The American is on course to change that after over-powering the Spaniard 6-0 6-3. Williams was also joined in the last-16 by her elder sister Venus, who fended off the plucky challenge of Australia's Casey Dellacqua 6-1 7-6 (7-4). There were also straight-set wins for fourth seed Caroline Wozniacki, seventh seed Victoria Azarenka, ninth seed Vera Zvonareva and the local hopeful Sam Stosur, the 13th seed.
It was the defending champion, however, who was the most impressive and she has now dropped just nine games to march into the fourth-round. The 28-year-old is, however, expecting a tough challenge in the next round where she will meet Stosur, who defeated Alberta Brianti 6-4 6-1 today. The Australian beat Serena Williams when they last met in Los Angeles last year and with her home crowd behind her the defending champion is wary of her threat. "She beat me the last time we played, so she has a lot of momentum," Williams said. "A ton of momentum. She serves great. She gets a lot of big, big first serves. "I definitely expect the crowd to root for Sam. I mean, I would."
Stosur claimed she could cause the upset, saying: "I guess I don't really have that much to lose. I can go out there and just really enjoy it. "I know I've got the game that can beat her because I've done it before." Sixth seed Venus Williams is chasing her first Australian Open title at the age of 29 and had to withstand a late challenge from the wildcard entry Dellacqua. "I think she played really well in the second set," said Venus Williams, who made it a hat-trick of wins against left-handers after beating Lucie Safarova and Sybille Bammer in the earlier rounds. "I had a lot of chances to go up breaks at 4-1 or 5-2 and she just hung in there and kept playing tough.
"It was my third lefty in a row, which is a little unusual so hopefully I'll be able to get back into the rhythm of playing right-handers." Venus Williams will get her wish after 17th seed Francesca Schiavone upset Agnieszka Radwanska, the 10th seed, 6-2 6-2. Danish teenager Wozniacki was too strong for 29th seed Shahar Peer 6-4 6-0 and will next play China's Li Na, who was the only unseeded player to go through today as she upset 22nd seed Daniela Hantuchova 7-5 6-3 6-2. Azarenka has quietly made her way through the draw, but confirmed she is a threat with a 6-0 6-2 win over unseeded 32-year-old Tathiana Garbin 6-0 6-2. It was the third consecutive match the Belorussian has claimed a set to love and she will next play the ninth-seeded Russian Vera Zvonareva who easily overcame Gisela Dulko 6-1 7-5.
* PA Sport