Friday, 12 February 2021 09:45

Staff Reporter.

Photo Credit: Getty Images.

Serena Williams overcame a sluggish start to beat Anastasia Potapova and reach the Australian Open fourth round.

Tenth seed Williams, bidding for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title, came through 7-6 (7-5) 6-2 against the 101st-ranked Russian.

However, the American had trailed 5-3 in an error-strewn first set, and she had to save two set points before dialling back in to win.

Naomi Osaka also advanced after a cagey match against Ons Jabeur of Tunisia.

Third seed Osaka and her opponent struggled for rhythm but it was the Japanese who prevailed 6-3 6-2.

Osaka will face two-time Grand Slam champion Garbine Muguruza next, while Williams plays seventh seed Aryna Sabalenka for a place in the quarter-finals.

She will face a tough test against big-hitting Belarusian Sabalenka, who beat American Ann Li 6-3 6-1.

"I came out of the blocks not like I have been before," said the 39-year-old, who had dropped only five games in her previous two matches.

"But it's all about surviving and playing better every round."

Up to 30,000 fans had been allowed in each day but the tournament will continue behind closed doors after an outbreak of coronavirus in a hotel.

Last year's finalist Muguruza needed just 58 minutes to beat Kazakhstan's Zarina Diyas 6-1 6-1.

Spaniard Muguruza has lost just 10 games in her opening three matches.

Taiwanese Hsieh Su-wei reached the fourth round for the third time in her career with a 6-4 2-6 7-5 victory over Sara Errani of Italy.

Hseih, who beat eighth seed Bianca Andreescu in the second round, trailed 5-3 in the decider before winning four successive games to advance.

She will play Czech Marketa Vondrousova next, after the 19th seed beat Sorana Cirstea of Romania 6-2 6-4.

Meanwhile Sixth seed Alexander Zverev made light work of Adrian Mannarino to reach the Australian Open fourth round.

Zverev, a semi-finalist at Melbourne Park in 2020, beat France's 36th-ranked Mannarino 6-3 6-3 6-1.
 It is just the second time in 27 attempts that the German has beaten a top-50 player in straight sets at a Grand Slam.

He will play either Pedro Martinez of Spain or Serbia's Dusan Lajovic for a place in the quarter-finals.

Zverev, who lost the US Open final to Dominic Thiem in September, dropped his opening set of the tournament against American Marcos Giron.

He has not lost a set since and he did not look troubled against Mannarino, saving all four break points he faced and hitting 35 winners to his opponent's 11.

He is joined in the fourth round by Bulgarian 18th seed Grigor Dimitrov, who advanced when opponent Pablo Carreno-Busta retired with an injury.