Fifth seed Aryna Sabalenka got Thursday started with a 6-3, 6-1 defeat of American Shelby Rogers to settle into the third round of the Australian Open.
The three-time Grand Slam semi-finalist whose best Melbourne showings have been the fourth round for the last two editions, had little to complain about after her 88-minute win.
She will next line up against Belgian Elise Mertens after her 6-4, 6-3 defeat of American Lauren Davis.
“It was not the greatest match I’ve played, but it was enough today,”Mertens said.
“I knew it was going to be a different opponent, a difficult one too because she just won Hobart.
“She has a lot of matches under her belt already. It was solid. It was enough today, so I’m pleased.”
Sabalenka, noted for a sketchy drive last season, kept her double-fault slate clean on the day while delivering 32 winners.
“I didn’t really try to go for all those winners. I was just picking the target,” she said.
“I’ve worked a lot on my serve – really a lot. You can’t imagine how much I worked. I’m just super happy right now that everything is working.”
French fourth seed Caroline Garcia, winner of the ATP Finals two months ago in Texas, kept up the effort to follow up on her career-best Grand Slam semi-final at the US Open in 2022.
The Frenchwoman ranked fourth, needed more than an hour to win her opening set against Canada’s former US Open winner Leylah Fernandez, finally emerging with a 7-6(1), 7-5 trip to the third round.
Two seeds were eliminated, with American qualifier Katie Volynets defeating tournament No. 9 Veronika Kudermetova 6-4, 2-6, 6-2; Poland’s Magda Linette put out 16th seed Anett Kontaveit with a 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 fightback after nearly two hours.
Ekaterina Alexandrova ended the comeback run of Taylor Townsend of the US, defeating the wild card and mother of one 1-6, 6-2, 6-3.
Rising Czech teenager Linda Fruhvirtova halted Aussie wild card Kimberly Birrell with a quick 6-3 6-2 win; 2019 semi-finalist Karolina Pliskova defeated Yulia Putintseva 6-0, 7-5.
Italian Camila Giorgi advanced with a defeat of Slovak Anna Karolina Schmiedlova 6-4, 6-3.