You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Serena Williams reaches 4th round without dropping a set

Associated Press logo Associated Press 21-01-2017 By JOHN PYE
United States' Serena Williams makes a backhand return to Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic during their second round match at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, Thursday, Jan. 19, 2017. © AP Photo/Kin Cheung United States' Serena Williams makes a backhand return to Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic during their second round match at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, Thursday, Jan. 19, 2017.

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP)-- Serena Williams is still on track in her bid to win a record 23rd Grand Slam title.

Russia's Ekaterina Makarova, right, is congratulated by Slovakia's Dominika Cibulkova after winning their third round match at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017. © AP Photo/Andy Brownbill Russia's Ekaterina Makarova, right, is congratulated by Slovakia's Dominika Cibulkova after winning their third round match at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017. Russia's Ekaterina Makarova celebrates after defeating Slovakia's Dominika Cibulkova in their third round match at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017. © AP Photo/Andy Brownbill Russia's Ekaterina Makarova celebrates after defeating Slovakia's Dominika Cibulkova in their third round match at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017.

The six-time Australian Open winner beat fellow American Nicole Gibbs 6-1, 6-3 in the third round on Saturday, when she didn't face a break point until she was serving for the match.

Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic reacts after missing a shot against France's Caroline Garcia during their third round match at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017. © AP Photo/Kin Cheung Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic reacts after missing a shot against France's Caroline Garcia during their third round match at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017.

Dropping serve in that game was her only lapse in a match that then extended just beyond the hour - to 63 minutes to be precise. That made it one minute and one game longer than her only other match against Gibbs.

Croatia's Mirjana Lucic-Baroni celebrates after defeating Maria Sakkari of Greece in their third round match at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017. © AP Photo/Dita Alangkara Croatia's Mirjana Lucic-Baroni celebrates after defeating Maria Sakkari of Greece in their third round match at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017.

Williams started the tournament with difficult assignments in the first two rounds, but also got through those - against Belinda Bencic, with a career-high ranking of 7, and Lucie Safarova, a French Open finalist in 2015 - without dropping a set.

United States' Jennifer Brady celebrates after defeating Russia's Elena Vesnina during their third round match at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017. © AP Photo/Dita Alangkara United States' Jennifer Brady celebrates after defeating Russia's Elena Vesnina during their third round match at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017.

She has set the tone for the tournament. Williams will next play No. 16 Barbora Strycova, who beat No. 21 Caroline Garcia 6-2, 7-5.

Russia's Elena Vesnina reacts after losing a point to United States' Jennifer Brady during their third round match at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017. © AP Photo/Dita Alangkara Russia's Elena Vesnina reacts after losing a point to United States' Jennifer Brady during their third round match at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017.

Ekaterina Makarova led by a set and 4-0 but needed three sets and almost three hours to finally beat WTA Finals champion Dominika Cibulkova 6-2, 6-7 (3), 6-3.

''An amazing fight,'' Makarova said of her first win over sixth-seeded Cibulkova, the 2014 finalist at Melbourne Park. ''I got, to be honest, a bit tight at 4-0 in the second set. But I'm still here. I love this Grand Slam.''

In a momentum-swing match featuring some long streaks of games and 11 service breaks, Makarova got the decisive break in the eighth game of the deciding set and closed it next.

Makarova will play either 2016 semifinalist Johanna Konta, who beat her in the fourth round here last year, or former No. 1-ranked Caroline Wozniacki.

United States' Nicole Gibbs serves to compatriot Serena Williams during their third round match at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017.

United States' Nicole Gibbs serves to compatriot Serena Williams during their third round match at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017.
© AP Photo/Dita Alangkara

Mirjana Lucic-Baroni continued her unlikely run with a 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 win over Maria Sakkari, and so did American qualifier Jennifer Brady.

Before this week, the 34-year-old Lucic-Baroni hadn't won a match at Melbourne Park since her debut at the Australian Open in 1998. The 19-year gap in between match wins at a Grand Slam tournament broke the record set by Kimiko Date-Krumm, who went 17 years between match wins at Wimbledon.

Lucic-Baroni reached the semifinals of Wimbledon in 1999 as a 17-year-old and captured the Australian Open doubles title a year before that with Martina Hingis.

She next plays Brady, ranked No. 116, who had never played in the main draw of a major before she qualified for this week.

The 21-year-old American had a 7-6 (4), 6-2 win over 14th-seeded Elena Vesnina on Show Court 2, and is making the most of the occasion.

By saving five match points before rallying to beat Heather Watson in the second round, Brady effectively doubled her number of career wins.

United States' Serena Williams hits a backhand return to compatriot Nicole Gibbs during their third round match at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017. © AP Photo/Andy Brownbill United States' Serena Williams hits a backhand return to compatriot Nicole Gibbs during their third round match at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017.

On the men's side, No. 8 Dominic Thiem beat Benoit Paire 6-1, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 to set up a fourth-round match against No. 11 David Goffin, who ended Ivo Karlovic's run 6-3, 6-2, 6-4.

The 37-year-old Karlovic's win in the first round set an endurance record - the 84 games in the win over Horacio Zeballos, which ended 22-20 in the fifth, was an Open-era mark for the tournament.

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon