Serena Williams keeps the power on during third-round victory at Australian Open
Serena Williams is still on track in her bid to win a record 23rd Grand Slam singles title.
The six-time Australian Open champion defeated fellow American Nicole Gibbs, 6-1, 6-3, in the third round Saturday. She didn’t face a break point until she was serving for the match.
Dropping serve in that game was her only lapse in a match that was over in 63 minutes. That made it one minute and one game longer than her only other match against Gibbs.
Williams started the tournament with difficult assignments in the first two rounds — against Belinda Bencic, with a ranking of No. 7, and Lucie Safarova, a French Open finalist in 2015 — but also got through those without dropping a set.
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.
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 career win over the sixth-seeded Cibulkova, a 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 match featuring 11 service breaks and numerous momentum swings, Makarova got the decisive break in the eighth game of the deciding set and closed it in the next game.
Her next opponent will be 2016 semifinalist Johanna Konta, who defeated her in the fourth round here last year. Konta, seeded ninth, beat 17th-seeded former No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki, 6-3, 6-1.
Mirjana Lucic-Baroni of Croatia and American qualifier Jennifer Brady continued their unlikely runs, Lucic-Baroni with a 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 win over Maria Sakkari, Brady with a 7-6 (4), 6-2 upset of 14th-seeded Elena Vesnina of Russia.
Before this week, the 34-year-old Lucic-Baroni hadn’t won a match at Melbourne Park since her Australian Open debut in 1998. The 19-year gap between match wins at a Grand Slam tournament broke a record set by Kimiko Date-Krumm, who went 17 years between match wins at Wimbledon.
Lucic-Baroni, a Wimbledon semifinalist in 1999 as a 17-year-old and an Australian Open doubles champion a year before that with Martina Hingis, next plays the 116th-ranked Brady, who had never played in the main draw of a major before she qualified for this one.
By rallying past Britain’s Heather Watson in the second round and then defeating Vesnina, the 21-year-old Brady more than doubled her number of career wins.
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 victory in the first round set a tournament 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 Australian Open.
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