Jason Heidrich Serena Williams celebrates her win today.
Wizard of Oz

Serena Williams wins her 90th Australian Open match against Potapova

There was also a stunning win for lion-hearted Aslan Karatsev against Diego Schwartzman.

SERENA WILLIAMS SAYS it will be business as usual for her as the Australian Open moves behind closed doors for the next five days.

The 10th seed’s quest for a 24th grand slam title continued as she got past teenager Anastasia Potapova 7-6 (5) 6-2 in a third-round match that was harder than the scoreline suggests.

The Russian was the better player for much of it and will have nightmares over the five double faults she sent down when serving for the first set at 5-4.

Williams was able to play more freely in the second set as she went on to win her 90th match at the Australian Open, with her first, way back in 1998, coming three years before Potapova was even born.

The 39-year-old is in the last 16 for the 16th time at this tournament, but her tie with Aryna Sabalenka will be in front on an empty stadium after the Victorian government imposed a five-day lockdown.

The players will revert to a tournament bubble – as they did for the latter part of 2020 – which means they cannot leave their hotel or the tournament grounds, something Williams says is no different to usual.

“It’s rough. It’s going to be a rough few days for I think everyone,” Williams said of the new restrictions. “But we’ll hopefully get through it.

“It’s not ideal. It’s been really fun to have the crowd back, especially here. It’s been really cool.

“But at the end of the day we have to do what’s best. Hopefully it will be all right.

“I think basically we just go to the tennis, to the hotel. I’m not sure. I would imagine that would be it. I’ve been doing that for 20 years, so I think I’ve been pretty much quarantining for my whole career.”

Third seed and 2019 champion Naomi Osaka could be Williams’ biggest threat to the title as the Japanese is looking in ominous form.

australian-open-tennis Hamish Blair Japan's Naomi Osaka in action today. Hamish Blair

Osaka overcame a tough start against tricky opponent Ons Jabeur to win 6-3 6-2 to extend a lengthy unbeaten run.

The 23-year-old has not been beaten on court since a Fed Cup match in Spain last February, with her only losses coming in matches where she gave her opponent a walkover beforehand.

Elsewhere, unknown Russian, Aslan Karatsev, caused a major shock when he destroyed eighth seed Diego Schwartzman in straight sets.

The 27-year-old qualifier, ranked 114 in the world and playing at his first grand slam, stunned Argentinian ace Schwartzman 6-3 6-3 6-3 on the John Cain Arena.

Including qualifying Karatsev has now played six matches at the tournament and dropped only one set.

And he showed nerves of steel as he closed out the match of his life with an ace down the middle.

Karatsev suffered a serious knee injury in training in 2017 which kept him out for six months.

He was a member of Russia’s triumphant ATP Cup team last week, as a doubles player, but did not play a live match due to the form of singles stars Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev.

Karatsev said on court: “I had a big injury on my knee but after two years I recovered.

“The ATP Cup was great, we have unbelievable players in Daniil and Andrey, and it gave me a lot of confidence when we won.”

Press Association
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