Venus, Vandeweghe advance to Australian Open round of 16

January 20, 2017 09:52 AM

By Ashley Marshall,

A pair of American women advanced to the fourth round of the Australian Open on Day 5 in Melbourne. For one, it’s familiar ground. For the other, it’s uncharted territory.

Venus Williams routed Ying-Ying Duan, 6-1, 6-0, to advance to the round of 16 for the 10th time Down Under and for the 47th time in her Grand Slam career.  Earlier in the day, CoCo Vandeweghe outlasted Eugenie Bouchard, 6-4, 3-6, 7-5, to secure a spot in the fourth round of the ‘Happy Slam’ for the first time in her career.

Williams needed just 59 minutes inside Margaret Court Arena to see off world No. 87 Duan, breaking twice in her first two return games of the opening set before securing three more breaks on eight opportunities in the second.

The American saved the only break point she faced and she finished with 25 winners to 18 unforced errors in a performance that was just too powerful for Duan to handle.

The 36-year-old will next play world No. 181 Mona Bathel, a former Top 30 player who made it to the main draw through the qualifying tournament, in Round 4.

Also in the top half of the draw is Vandeweghe, who showed poise and resilience to topple Bouchard. Their third-round match was decided by the finest of margins, Vandeweghe converting the only break-point opportunity of the first set and Bouchard seizing the lone chance she earned in the second.

The turning point of the match came at 4-4 in the deciding set, when Vandeweghe saved four break points to hold serve. It proved decisive three games later, when the American closed the match at the first opportunity to set up a showdown with defending champion and world No. 1 Angelique Kerber.

But for both Williams and the 35th-ranked Vandeweghe, a strong run in the first major of the season is the perfect way to usher in the new year and extend the momentum gained in 2016.

Williams, a seven-time major champion, reached the second week in Melbourne in each of her first five appearances between 1998 and 2003, but she has only reached the quarterfinal stage once in the past six years. The veteran has been turning back the clock lately, however, reaching the fourth round of the French Open last May, the semifinals of Wimbledon in June and the fourth round of the US Open in September.

The last time Williams reached the fourth round or better in four consecutive Grand Slams was in 2010, two years after winning her last of five Wimbledon championships.

“It's good. It's never enough,” Williams said. “I've been in the fourth round before. I've tasted it before and it's always a great feeling because it means, hey, I have an opportunity for the quarterfinals. That's what I'm going to go for. Whatever happens, I'm looking forward to executing my game. That's all that matters at this point, is to continue to elevate myself. As the rounds continue, I need to raise my level. This is my primary focus, and nothing else.”

And for Vandeweghe, who reached the quarterfinals in doubles in Australia and the semifinals in New York last year, she’s now been in the final 16 in two of the past three Slams and is on the verge of climbing to a career-best ranking.

Elsewhere on Day 5, No. 23 seed Jack Sock lost to 12th-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in four tight sets, No. 31 Sam Querrey fell to world No. 1 Andy Murray and Alison Riske went out to Sorana Cirstea.