Top-seeded Serena Williams cruised to her 70th Australian Open win with a 6-1, 6-2 victory over No. 90 Su-wei Hsieh of Taiwan in the second round Wednesday as she marches to what she hopes will be her seventh title Down Under.
Wednesday’s match was the first pitting Hsieh—the two-time Grand Slam winner, both in doubles—against Williams, who is chasing Steffi Graf’s Open-era record of 22 major titles.
After Williams shook hands with Hsieh at midcourt after her victory, she spun twice in celebration as she waved to the crowd, courtesy the Australian Open:
Williams hit seven aces to Hsieh’s zero and won an impressive 85 percent of her first-serve points with a top serve speed of a scorching 122 miles per hour.
Her fluidity and remarkable run have made it difficult to turn away when she hits the court, as Sony ESPN succinctly pointed out:
The way Serena plays her tennis, it's hard to do anything else but watch her. #HomeOfTennis— SONY ESPN (@SONYESPN) January 20, 2016
Yet Williams was forced on her toes from the first serve, falling 0-30 in the opening game before reaching a deuce and eventually claiming the contest.
Williams seized the momentum from there, jumping to a 5-1 lead in the first set. Then Hsieh reached her first break point but was denied on a convincing backhand by the world No. 1 and forced into a game-sealing error.
Williams kept it rolling in the second set with a pair of break points in the opening game in trademark fashion, as Dawn Rhodes of the Chicago Tribune noted:
Serena saves a break point with a vintage BH right on the line. Then zing a CC BH winner past Hsieh to wrap it up. 6-1. #AusOpen— Dawn Rhodes (@rhodes_dawn) January 20, 2016
One of Williams’ rare blemishes, a double-fault, gave Hsieh a 15-40 lead, but in trademark fashion, she responded with an ace on her first break point and outdueled Hsieh on the second to maintain a 4-0 lead.
Hsieh finally got on the scoreboard in the next game, but it didn’t faze Williams, who forced her opponent to serve to remain in the match, which Hsieh simply couldn’t do.
Williams saved all three break points, finished with seven aces and was one win shy of tripling Hsieh’s total, 26 to nine.
Williams now eyes the third round and awaits the winner of the match between Daria Kasatkina and Ana Konjuh.
Match stats courtesy of AusOpen.com.
Afterwards, Williams acknowledged to the ESPN2 telecast that facing the crafty Hsieh this early in the tournament was a good challenge as she presses forward:
She’s definitely a tricky opponent and I think it was a good matchup for me to play someone like that, who can hit any shot at any time, I mean, anywhere on the court. So yeah, I kind of needed that.
When asked about the incredibly bright conditions under the hot Australian sun at Rod Laver Arena, Williams brushed off the challenge and instead elaborated on her enjoyment of playing at Melbourne Park.
"I love it every time I come here. I always have a great time here, whether I win or lose. I just really enjoy myself."
After all, it’s where she played in her first Grand Slam in 1998, per Jonathan Newman of The Body Serve:
Serena: "I really love this crowd, it all started here. This is where i played my first grand Slam tournament." #AusOpen— Jonathan Newman (@SportScribeCA) January 20, 2016
Williams is the reigning champion of the Australian Open and after Wednesday, remains the favorite to repeat.