Australian Open: Smooth sailing for Venus, Genie

Against 26-year-old Stefanie Voegele at the Australian Open on Wednesday, Venus Williams mixed up her game and won 6-3, 6-2,. She hit 24 winners and got five service breaks to ensure her passage into the third round.

Venus Williams Australian Open 2017

Venus Williams rolled back the years on Wednesday with a straight-sets demolition of Switzerland's Stefanie Voegele.   -  AFP

It was inevitable after such an energetic performance in her second-round win over Stefanie Voegele at the Australian Open that Venus Williams would get asked about transcending the generations in tennis.

The 36-year-old seven-time major winner played the first of her record 73 Grand Slam tournaments at the French Open in 1997. Back then, she got to play against the likes of Steffi Graf and Martina Navratilova.

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Against the 26-year-old Voegele at the Australian Open on Wednesday, Williams mixed up her game, clearly not intent on relying only on the kind of power game that helped her make a mark on the sport. She won 6-3, 6-2, hitting 24 winners and getting five service breaks.

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“I have to talk about this every interview,” Williams said in reply to what has become a regular post-match question to the oldest player in the women’s draw here. “I’ve played some of the greats. It’s an honor and privilege to start that young,” she added, laughing, “and play this old.”

In the second set, serving and with a game point, she chased the ball like a teenager from one side of the court to the other, and back, trying to finish off. Her forehand landed too long, but her intention was clear. Get through the round ASAP. She won the subsequent two points to hold.

At 15-15 and 5-2 in the second, she was still remonstrating with herself after missing a point. She finished off the match later in the same game, another break, to reach the third round. Williams lost to eventual semifinalist Johanna Konta in the opening round last year.

Bouchard comeback gathers pace

Eugenie Bouchard's return to form gathered pace Wednesday when she dispatched tricky Chinese Peng Shuai in straight sets to blast into the Australian Open third round. The 22-year-old, on the comeback trail after her high-flying career plunged into a tailspin, came through a testing tiebreaker to win 7-6 (7/5), 6-2 on Hisense Arena and keep her Grand Slam dreams alive.

"In the first set I didn't play that great, I was a little bit nervous," she said. "But overall I feel like I am getting better with every passing day. I'm honoured to be playing on such big courts."

Bouchard rose to the challenge against the experienced Peng, coming through plenty of gruelling, physical rallies in the first set with her athleticism to the fore in a close-fought tiebreaker. The Canadian, now ranked 47, scored a crucial second-set break in game four and kept the pressure as Peng began to fade, winning with a powerful forehand on her fourth match point.

She will next play either France's Pauline Parmentier or American Coco Vandeweghe, with a potential fourth round clash world number one Angelique Kerber, whom she beat in Rome last year, awaiting her.

In other early matches, No. 11 Elina Svitolina had a 6-4, 6-1 win over U.S. qualifier Julia Boserup and No. 24 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova beat fellow Russian Natalia Vikhlyantseva 6-2, 6-2.