Australian Open 2015: Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams progress but storms brew over Andy Murray tweet and Eugenie Bouchard 'twirl'

Djokovic beat Andrey Kuznetsov 6-0 6-1 6-4 while Williams overcame Vera Zvonareva 7-5 6-0

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The Independent Online

Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams had less than perfect build-ups to the Australian Open but both have reached the third round with a minimum of fuss. The two world No 1s dropped only five games each against Russian opponents here today as Djokovic crushed Andrey Kuznetsov 6-0, 6-1, 6-4 and Williams recovered from a slow start to beat Vera Zvonareva 7-5, 6-0.

When illness forced Djokovic out of his scheduled exhibition match against Andy Murray in Abu Dhabi in the first week of the new year and then lost to Ivo Karlovic in his only warm-up event before Melbourne, doubts were cast on the Serb’s ability to win the title here for a fifth time.

Bouchard asked to 'do a twirl' by presenter

Djokovic admitted before the tournament that he had been suffering with flu and stomach problems, but he found top form today. When he led 6-0, 3-0 the statisticians started to search for evidence of the last “triple bagel” singles victory here – it was in 1966 – but Kuznetsov finally got on the scoreboard.

 

The world No 88, who reached the third round at Wimbledon last summer, played better in the final set to bring some respectability to the scoreline as Djokovic took his foot off the accelerator.

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Novak Djokovic powered past the challenge of Andrey Kuznetsov

“The first two sets were definitely great,” Djokovic said afterwards. “Overall I executed the game plan. Everything I intended to do was almost 100 per cent - serve, baseline play, aggressive shots and aggressive returns. He dropped his first-serve percentage a lot in the second set and obviously allowed me to have a lot of looks at the second serves. That, as well, gave me an opportunity to step in and just swing through the ball.”

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Novak Djokovic celebrates his straight-sets victory over Andrey Kuznetsov

Williams had looked lethargic when she opened her season at the Hopman Cup in Perth a fortnight ago and there were times in today’s opening set against Vera Zvonareva when she again seemed well below her best. Zvonareva, who lost to the American in the 2010 Wimbledon final, pushed hard in the early stages and went within two points of taking the first set.

Zvonareva broke serve twice in the opening set, but the Russian was outplayed as Williams upped her game in the second. The world No 1 eventually closed out her victory after an hour and 25 minutes.

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Serena Williams celebrates winning a point against Vera Zvonareva

Garbine Muguruza, who beat Williams at the French Open last year and could meet her in the fourth round here, beat Daniela Hantuchova 6-1, 1-6, 6-0. Williams’ sister, Venus, is also through to the last 32 after beating her fellow American, Lauren Davis, 6-2, 6-3.

Stan Wawrinka, who is defending the men’s singles title, was not at his best but was too good for the Romanian qualifier, Marius Copil, winning 7-6, 7-6, 6-3. Kei Nishikori recovered from a slow start to beat Ivan Dodig 4-6, 7-5, 6-2, 7-6.

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Stan Wawrinka beat Marius Copil to progress to the third round

Off the court two of the main subjects of discussion were a tweet and a twirl. After Rafa Nadal defied dizziness and nausea to win a marathon five-set match yesterday evening, Andy Murray went on Twitter to respond to what he saw as criticism after he suffered cramp at the US Open last summer.

Murray wrote: “When I cramped and won in the US Open last year I was a ‘drama queen, unfit, needs to see a shrink, faker’ weird...”

 

Meanwhile an on-court interviewer’s request to Eugenie Bouchard to do a “twirl” to show off her outfit drew criticism on the grounds that it was sexist and that male players would not have been asked the same. Having looked uncomfortable as she twirled, Bouchard said later: “I don't know - an old guy asking you to twirl, it was funny.”

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Eugenie Bouchard was asked to 'do a twirl' after her match against Kiki Bertens

Williams, asked whether she thought the request had been sexist, recalled an occasion when she had been asked to do the same. “It was fine,” she said. “I don’t think and look that deep into it. Life is far too short to focus on that. We have so many other problems we want to deal with that we should focus on. Whether I twirl or not, it's not the end of the world.”

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