Serena Williams overcame a first-set scare to trump Vera Zvonareva 7-5 6-0 in their Australian Open second-round clash on Thursday.
Williams twice trailed by a break in the first set, and was down set point three times, before progressing in one hour 25 minutes on Rod Laver Arena.
Zvonareva, a former world number two, was causing the current world number one all sorts of problems, rallying with depth and consistency early.
But once Williams awoke from her slumber, she was unstoppable – despite landing just five of a possible 14 first serves in the second set.
The 18-time major winner finished with 32 winners to Zvonareva’s 11, while they both hit 24 unforced errors.
A Williams double-fault on break point gave Zvonareva the early break, with the top seed concerned the elements were bothering her – the sun at the far end of the court (broadcast wise) was positioned in the path of her ball toss.
Williams was not alone though, as Zvonareva’s first attempt at serving from the same end also produced a double fault – and the American went on to arrest her break deficit immediately.
Try as she might, Williams could not prise open a clear buffer – but should have, when missing a simple put-away on break point in the sixth game.
Zvonareva, instead, took a lead of her own as a lax Williams backhand on break point found the net, with the Russian’s rallying impressive – and reminiscent of her most glorious days when she was twice a grand slam finalist in 2010.
And one would have thought she still was number two in the world – not 203, her current ranking – as she forced Williams to serve to stay in the set at 3-5.
She did so – via saving three set points with typical aggression – and Williams, via some second serves and unforced errors from Zvonareva, got the break back to square it at 5-5.
And 10 points later, the set was in Serena’s kit bag. Zvonareva was wilting, as she failed to top 160 kilometres per hour on any of her serves in the 12th game.
In the second set, the real Serena Williams stood up.
Four winners in two games saw her race to a break lead, and her momentum continued as she ended up winning 10 consecutive games to go from first-set trouble to a third-round berth.