Venus takes out Chinese, hungry for more
The 13th seed was in a different league, spanking Duan 6-1, 6-0 on Margaret Court Arena and showing no signs of the elbow injury that forced her out of the doubles with sister Serena.
She will next play German qualifier Mona Barthel, who beat Australian hope Ashleigh Barty.
If she comes through that encounter, a potential quarter-final with fellow veteran Svetlana Kuznetsova looms.
“Oh, yay! It’s good. It’s never enough,” said Williams on still making her mark at Grand Slams.
“I’ve been in the fourth round before. I’ve tasted it before and it’s always a great feeling because it means, hey, I have an opportunity for the quarter-finals. That’s what I’m going to go for.”
The American, the oldest player in the women’s draw and playing her 17th Australian Open, said tennis had given her “a beautiful life”. But she isn’t finished yet.
“Whatever happens, I’m looking forward to executing my game,” she said of her next match.
“That’s all that matters at this point, is to continue to elevate myself. As the rounds continue, I need to raise my level. This is my primary focus, and nothing else.”
Remarkably Duan, ranked 87, admitted ahead of the match that she’d never seen Williams play, and would be relying heavily on her coach’s guidance.
This is despite the seven-time Grand Slam winner being one of the game’s most prominent players over the past two decades.
She paid dearly against Williams who remains a force, making the fourth round or better at three of the four Grand Slams last year.
Williams, 36, exploited Duan’s weak serve and apparent nerves, racing to a quick break in the opening set, with no way back for the Chinese star. She won a consolation game but that was as good as it got.
Duan, normally an aggressive and powerful player, was never able to get into her groove as Williams dictated the points, pushing her around the court.
Williams didn’t give an inch, breaking Duan first service game in the second set and romping to an easy victory.
Despite the loss, it was an encouraging tournament for China’s number five, who reached a Grand Slam third round for the first time and was her country’s last player standing.
“This is her first time in the third round. It’s a lot of pressure,” Williams said.
“Having the opportunity to play this third round, play against a player of my experience, is going to be a huge stepping stone for her. She’s got talent. It’s perfect for women’s tennis.”
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