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Davis, Serena advance to third round of Australian Open

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January 20, 2016 11:20 AM

By Ashley Marshall, USTA.com

Lauren Davis may have made a name for herself on the junior circuit as a rare American clay courter, but the Ohio native is proving she’s equally formidable on the concrete.

Davis advanced to the third round of a Grand Slam for the third time in her career on Day 3 of the Australian Open on Wednesday, beating Slovakia’s Magdalena Rybarikova to set up a round-of-32 encounter with 2008 champion and last year’s runner-up Maria Sharapova.

The 22-year-old Davis (pictured above) took a close first-set tiebreak over Rybarikova, 9-7, before the 27-year-old world No. 75 was forced to retire. That moved the American into the third round of a major for the first time in 18 months, equaling her deepest run at a Slam alongside the 2014 Australian Open and Wimbledon later that summer.

At just 5-feet-2, Davis will have to rely on her strong backhand and blazing court speed if she hopes to upset the former world No. 1 on Friday. The pair have never played before, but the Sharapova dwarfs her opponent in height (by 12 inches), ranking (by 98 places) and career earnings (by $35 million), so Davis will need to find the form that saw her topple Genie Bouchard in Charleston last April and Victoria Azarenka in Indian Wells in 2014, her only two top-10 victories.

The winner of that match will face either No. 12 seed Belinda Bencic or Kateryna Bondarenko in the fourth round, with a possible quarterfinal spot against Serena Williams up for grabs.

Top-seeded Williams was the other American to advance to the third round on Wednesday, beating Su-Wei Hsieh of Taiwan, 6-1, 6-2. The 34-year-old exactly one hour to punch her ticket, winning all but four points on her first serve and saving all three break points she faced.

Elsewhere on Day 3, Austin Krajicek fell in straight sets to No. 7 seed Kei Nishikori, 6-3, 7-6(5), 6-3; Dennis Kulda lost to 28th-seeded Italian Andreas Seppi, 7-5, 6-4, 6-4; and Noah Rubin was defeated by Frenchman Pierre-Hughes Herbert, 6-3, 6-4, 6-0.

In women's action, Irina Falconi lost to 13th-seeded Roberta Vinci, 6-2, 6-3, and Nicole Gibbs was eliminated by No. 28 seed Kristina Mladenovic, 6-1, 7-6(4).

Wednesday also saw the start of doubles action, with a number of Americans faring well on the first day of competition.

The No. 12-seeded team of American CoCo Vandeweghe and German Anna-Lena Groenefeld defeated German duo Annika Beck and Carina Witthoeft, 6-3, 7-6(8), and Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Sabine Lisicki, another American-German duo, beat Klaudia Jans-Ignacik and Paula Kania of Poland, 6-2, 3-6, 6-4. Also, American Madison Keys and Australian Ajla Tomljanovic were victorious, as were Maria Sanchez and her partner, Stephanie Vogt of Lichtenstein.

In men’s doubles, the  all-American duo of Steve Johnson and Sam Querrey secured safe passage to the second round, defeating Lukas Rosol and Igor Zelenay, 6-3, 7-6(3). No. 9 seeds Jack Sock and Vasek Pospisil (of Canada) also advanced, joining 13th-seeded Rajeev Ram and Raven Klassen of South Africa in Round 2.

Day 4 of the Australian Open sees nine Americans competing in singles action.

Men’s No. 10 seed John Isner will look to follow up his strong-serving effort from Round 1 against Spain’s Marcel Granollers and No. 25 seed Jack Sock will face Rosol. The 31st-seeded Steve Johnson plays Thomaz Bellucci of Brazil, Tim Smyczek squares off against Serbian No. 21 seed Viktor Troicki and Ram plays Stephane Robert of France.

In the women’s draw, No. 15 Madison Keys faces Yaroslava Shvedova of Kazakhstan, Vania King meets Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic, Madison Brengle plays Swede Johanna Larsson and Varvara Lepchenko faces Lara Arruabarrena of Spain.

In addition, 15 other members of Team USA will get their doubles campaign underway. Among those in action are the third-seeded Bryan brothers, Bob and Mike, looking to win their seventh Australian Open men’s doubles title and 17th overall Grand Slam, and the all-American duo of Abigail Spears and Raquel Atawo, who reached the semifinals in Melbourne in 2014 and the quarterfinals 12 months ago.

 

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