A place in the third round of the Australian Open was the perfect birthday present for Angelique Kerber, as the defending champion overcame the tough test of Carina Witthoeft to reach the third round.
German compatriot Witthoeft came from a set down to lead by a break in the deciding set, but Kerber dug deep to earn another hard-fought 6-2 6-7 (3/7) 6-2 victory as she remained on course for a third grand slam title.
Kerber will face world number 58 Kristyna Pliskova, the twin sister of Karolina, on Friday, after the Czech player overcame a tough second set tie-break to defeat Romanian Irina-Camelia Begu 6-4 7-6 (10/8).
The oldest competitor in Melbourne, Venus Williams showed age is just a number, as the American comfortably sealed her place in the third round with a 6-3 6-2 win over Stefanie Voegele of Switzerland.
It was the end of the road for Spain’s Carla Suarez Navarro as Romania’s Sorana Cirstea reached the third round of a grand slam for the first time since the 2014 French Open with a 7-6 (7/1) 6-3 victory over the tenth seed.
It was a much better outing for fellow Spaniard Garbine Muguruza as the reigning French Open champion overcame the test of American Samantha Crawford 7-5 6-4 to keep hopes of a second grand slam title alive.
Last year’s quarter-finalist Zhang Shuai will not be duplicating her success this year, after American Alison Riske dumped out the 20th seed in a closely fought 7-6 (9/7) 4-6 6-1 victory.
Olympic champion Monica Puig is also out of the tournament, after Germany’s Mona Barthel denied the Puerto Rican a place in the third round with a 6-4 6-4 straight sets win.
11th seed Elina Svitolina wasted little time in booking her place in the next round after an easy 6-4 6-1 win over American Julia Boserup, while it was also an easy day at the office for Svetlana Kuznetsova as the Russian breezed past Australia’s Jaimee Fourlis 6-2 6-1.
Former world number one Jelena Jankovic converted four of her five break points in a 6-3 6-4 win against Germany’s Julia Goerges, while Canada’s Eugenie Bouchard edged out China’s Peng Shuai 7-6 (7/5) 6-2 to also reach the next round.
On the men’s side of things, world number one Andy Murray overcame an injury scare as he cruised into the third round of the Australian Open with victory against Andrey Rublev.
The Scotsman raced into a two-set lead against the 19-year-old Russian before injury concern in the third set after he rolled over on his right ankle, but Murray rallied on to secure a comfortable 6-3 6-0 6-2 victory to keep hopes of a first Australian Open title alive.
Murray will face Sam Querrey – who famously knocked out Novak Djokovic of last year’s Wimbledon – in the third round, after the American overcame a first set tie break to bag a 7-6 (7/5) 6-0 6-1 straight sets win over Alex De Minaur of Australia.
Roger Federer was made to work for his place in the third round of the Australian Open with the 17-time grand slam winner having to dig deep against American qualifier Noah Rubin.
The Swiss man cruised through the opening two sets before he fell into a slump having to save two set points at 5-2 down in the third, before clawing back to win in a tie-breaker 7-5 6-3 7-6 (7/3).
It was an easier route to the third round for Federer’s compatriot Stan Wawrinka, as the fourth seed hit 46 winners in a convincing 6-3 6-4 6-4 straight sets win against American Steve Johnson.
Former US Open champion Marin Cilic is heading home early after British number three Dan Evans pulled off one of the biggest wins of his career, coming from a set down to dump out the Croatian 3-6 7-5 6-3 6-3.
There was also an early exit for Australia’s own Nick Kyrgios as Italian Andreas Seppi fought from two sets down and saved a match point, in his hard-fought 1-6 6-7 (1/7) 6-4 6-2 10-8 victory against the unpredictable 21-year-old.
John Isner also suffered a shock second round exit in Melbourne, as Germany’s Mischa Zverev fought back from two sets down to stun the American 6-7 (4/7) 6-7 (4/7) 6-4 7-6 (9/7) 9-7 in a five set thriller.
There was better news for Isner’s fellow American Jack Sock who advanced with a 6-3 6-4 6-4 straight sets win over Russian Karen Khachano, while 12th seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is also comfortably through with a 6-2 6-2 6-3 victory against Serbia’s Dusan Lajovic.
It was also all too easy for Japan’s Kei Nishikori who easily dumped out Frenchman Jeremy Chardy 6-3 6-4 6-3, but Denmark’s Thomas Berdych needed to dig deep to defeat USA’s Ryan Harrison 6-3 7-6(6) 6-2 to set up a third round clash with Federer.
Serbia’s Viktor Troicki emerged the winner in a hard-fought 6-3 1-6 7-6 (7/3) 3-6 6-3 five set victory against Italy’s Paolo Lorenzi and Aussie Bernard Tomic needed four sets to overcome the challenge of Dominican Republic’s Victor Estrella Burgos 7-5 7-6 (7/4) 4-6 7-6 (7/5)