Cara, Rodionova through to third round

HARARE - Zimbabwe tennis ace Cara Black and her Australian partner Anastasia Rodionova booked a straight forward passage into the third round of the Australian Open yesterday.

Black and Rodionova mastered Shuko Aoyama of Japan and Irina Falconi of the United States in identical sets 6-4, 6-4 in 1 hour 18 minutes to stay on course to clinching the first Grand Slam title of the year.

The wild car pairing of Black and Rodionova will now face what looks on paper a difficult encounter against the number seven seeds Nuria Llagostera Vives of Spain and Jie Zheng of China.

Llagostera Vives and Zheng had a routine victory over second round opponents Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia and Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium winning that match in 1 hour 22 minutes.

Llagostera Vives and Zheng conceded just six games in a 6-3,6-3 victory.

Elsewhere, there were no major surprises in the men’s and women’s singles.

Bookmakers favourite Serena Williams and top seed Victoria Azarenka both made it through to the last 16.

Williams shrugged off the challenge of Japanese number one Ayumi Morita, winning that match 6-1, 6-3.

The American top seed unleashed her fastest ever serve, a 207 kilometres per hour bullet as she subdued the challenge of Morita.

Defending champion Azarenka did not however have such moments of fireworks in her match as she had to fight hard to overcome stiff competition from America’s Jamie Hampton.

Azarenka defeated the injured Aemrican 6-4, 4-6, 6-2.

Andy Murray was also tested before reaching the Australian Open’s last 16 yesterday.

Murray extended his Grand Slam winning streak to 10 matches but not before a thorough workout from hitting partner Berankis, in a 6-3, 6-4, 7-5 win.

On Friday World No 1 Novak Djokovic remained on course for a third successive Australian Open title after seeing off Radek Stepanek.

The 25-year-old Serb proved too strong for Stepanek winning 6-4, 6-3, 7-5 in two hours 22 minutes.

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