Australian Open: Serena Williams, Victoria Azarenka sweep into last 16

Serena Williams overcame a feisty challenge from Ayumi Morita at the start of second set but recovered to swat aside the Japanese 6-1 6-3 and ease into the fourth round of the Australian Open on Saturday.

The 31-year-old American, seeking a sixth crown at Melbourne Park and a third successive grand slam title, was 3-0 down in the second set after suffering a service break for the first time in the tournament.

Showing no discomfort from the ankle strain she sustained in the opening round, however, the third seed stormed back to win the next six games and dismiss the world number 72 in 66 minutes.

Williams, who approached record levels with her serve when she hit the 207 kilometre per hour (129 mph) mark in the first set, set up a last 16 date with Russia's Maria Kirilenko.

Azarenka fends off Hampton

Defending champion Victoria Azarenka survived a huge scare from hard-hitting American Jamie Hampton, coming back from a break down in the deciding set to win 6-4 4-6 6-2 and reach the fourth round of the Australian Open on Saturday.

The 63rd-ranked American winced through the match with an apparent back injury, but went for broke against the Belarusian world number one, unleashing a barrage of forehand rockets to capture the second set and take a 2-1 lead in the third.

Azarenka dug deep to break the flagging Hampton twice and reeled off five successive games to win in two hours and nine minutes.

Azarenka will next play Russia's Elena Vesnina or 16th seeded Italian Roberta Vinci.

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