Australian Open 2017: Serena Williams beats Nicole Gibbs to reach fourth round

Six-time champion Serena Williams eased past fellow American Nicole Gibbs to reach the fourth round of the Australian Open in Melbourne.

The world number two, chasing a 23rd Grand Slam singles title, won 6-1 6-3 in 63 minutes on Rod Laver Arena.

Williams, 35, goes on to face Czech 16th seed Barbora Strycova, who beat France’s Caroline Garcia 6-2 7-5.

“She’s human, and she is beatable,” Strycova said of facing Williams in the last 16.

“This is a Grand Slam, and we are talking that she already won, but I don’t like these talks.”

Williams’ victory today marked the 35th time that both she and sister Venus have made the last 16 at Grand Slam level.

“I don’t have anything to prove in this tournament here. Obviously I’m here for one reason,” Williams said.

“But at the end of the day, this is all a bonus for me and I look forward to playing Strycova. I’m ready for her.”

Russian 30th seed Ekaterina Makarova came through a dramatic match to beat Slovakian sixth seed Dominika Cibulkova 6-2 6-7 (3-7) 6-3.

She will play British number one Johanna Konta, a 6-3 6-1 winner over Caroline Wozniaki, in the fourth round on Monday.

Fifth seed Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic lost the opening set against unseeded 19-year-old Jelena Ostapenko from Latvia. However, Pliskova, a finalist at last year’s US Open, fought back to win 4-6 6-0 10-8.

Daria Gavrilova, seeded 22nd, ensured there would be an Australian player in the women’s singles last 16 as she beat Swiss 12th seed Timea Bacsinsky 6-5 5-7 6-4 to set up a match against Pliskova.

Croatian veteran Mirjana Lucic-Baroni advanced to the last 16 for the first time with a 3-6 6-2 6-3 win over Greece’s Maria Sakkari.

Before this year, the 34-year-old Lucic-Baroni’s only previous win at the Australian Open came back in 1998.

“I never thought about stopping, but it was difficult. It was a lot of tears, a lot of disappointments,” she said.

“The fact that I was able to do that and be here today just kind of proves to myself who I am and what a fighter I am.”

Lucic-Baroni next faces American qualifier Jennifer Brady, the world number 116 who followed up her second-round win over Heather Watson by defeating 14th seed Elena Vesnina 7-6 (7-4) 6-2.

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