Radwanska, Li lead women into third round
Melbourne: Fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska built on her sizzling start to the season to join Chinese star Li Na and fifth seed Angelique Kerber in the third round of the Australian Open Wednesday.
Radwanska stormed to her 11th straight victory of the year as she carried the form shown in winning titles at Auckland and Sydney in the lead-up to the year`s opening Grand Slam.
The Pole beat Irina-Camelia Begu 6-3, 6-3 as she aims to improve on her three quarter-final appearances in Melbourne and now faces Kazak Ksenia Pervak or Britain`s Heather Watson.
While Radwanska had no dramas in overcoming the Romanian, former French Open champion Li was erratic in her 6-2, 7-5 victory over Olga Govortsova of Belarus.
Li sailed through the first set but struggled in the second, before finally knuckling down to claw back four games in a row to progress.
"She started the second set much better so I`m just happy to win," said Li, adding that she was confident of adding to her solitary Grand Slam title in 2011. "Australia for me -- I really believe I can win this Grand Slam."
The hardcourts seem to suit Li`s style of play and she made the final at Melbourne Park in 2011, losing to Kim Clijsters, and was a semi-finalist in 2010.
In contrast to Li`s struggle, Germany`s Kerber, who broke through last year with WTA titles in Paris and Copenhagen which pushed her to her current rank of five, looked comfortable in her 6-3, 6-1 rout of Czech Lucie Hradecka.
Kerber is flying under the radar in Melbourne, where she has never gone beyond the third round, but she has drawn confidence from 2012, when she was the first German to finish in the year-end top five since Steffi Graf in 1996.
"Of course I have a lot of confidence from last year," said Kerber, who is in the same side of the draw as world number two Maria Sharapova and seven-time Grand Slam winner Venus Williams, who both play later in the day.
"I beat a lot of good players and reached the top 10, top 5. I`m just enjoying being where I am right now, and just having fun also on the court and off site."
She next lines up against either American wildcard Madison Keys or 30th seed Tamira Paszek from Austria.
In other games, Slovak 15th seed Dominika Cibulkova was sent crashing out by Russian Valeria Savinykh 7-6 (8/6), 6-4.
Sharapova is on the Hisense Arena later Wednesday against Japan`s Misaki Doi after her ominous double bagel demolition of fellow Russian Olga Puchkova in the first round.
The second seed could play Venus Williams in a mouth-watering third round clash if the American gets through her evening match with France`s Alize Cornet on Rod Laver Arena.
The experienced Williams, 32, is on a long road back from injury and battling an auto-immune disease, but looked in good touch during her 6-1, 6-0 opening round win over Kazak Galina Voskoboeva.