Melbourne: Serena Williams said before the start of the Australian Open that even with just two warm-up matches under her belt she was ready for Melbourne. More than ready it seems.
The American, with lattice-work strapping snaking up from her injured left ankle to behind her knee, brushed aside Czech Barbora Zahlavova Strycova 6-0, 6-4 in just over an hour to reach the third round on Thursday.
Five-times champion Williams was unable to defend her 2009 and 2010 titles last year due to injury and there were concerns she would not be ready for the year`s first grand slam after pulling out of the Brisbane International quarter-finals with her sore ankle.
After shaking off the rust in the first round against Tamira Paszek, Williams was on song from the get-go on Thursday, blasting baseline winners past Strycova and racing through the first set in just 22 minutes.
Her Czech opponent won her first service game of the second set, eliciting enthusiastic applause from the crowd, but the Williams response was predictable, the 30-year-old winning her next serve to love and breaking Strycova to go 3-1 up.
Williams had her first wobble while serving for the match at 5-3, giving Strycova a sniff of hope, and the American looked in trouble when a change of direction left her sitting on the sun-baked court grimacing.
But Williams got back to her feet and promptly broke Strycova`s serve to seal the set 6-4 and earn her place in the third round.
Williams, who racked up her 500th match win with the victory, said her ankle was still causing her problems, a potential issue for tougher tests ahead.
"It`s fine, I just have really wobbly ankles," she said in a televised interview. "I wasn`t meant to be a ballerina or anything."
Williams will play Dominika Cibulkova or Greta Arn in the next round.
First Published: Thursday, January 19, 2012, 11:18