Serena Williams fought off scrappy Tamara Zidansek 6-2, 6-3 on Wednesday to move into the third round of the Australian Open in Melbourne.
The seven-time Australian Open champion needed just 32 minutes to dispatch the Slovenian in the first set. But in the second set, Zidansek changed the rhythmof the match by mixing in drop shots and shifting the pace, leading to uncharacteristic errors by the No. 8 seed. Williams finished with 25 winners but 28 unforced errors.
"I just started making way too many errors," Williams told reporters. "I mean, more errors than I have been making in my good matches in the past. I just wasn't doing the right technique, catching the ball not in my strike zone. It was just all off so I had to adjust.
"... So just having to say, OK, not every match is going to be perfect, how to work through that. I hadn't done that since September. It was just kind of working through that and getting through that."
Williams, the winner of 23 Grand Slam titles, moved into the third round for the 19th time in 20 career Australian Open appearances. She did it largely on the strength of her service game, striking seven aces, fending off all four of Zidansek's break chances and winning 78 percent of her first-serve points compared to 53 percent for her opponent in the one hour, 19-minute match.
The 38-year-old Williams' opponent in the next round will be Qiang Wang of China, who defeated Fiona Ferro of France 6-1, 6-2.
Also advancing to the third round was 15-year-old Coco Gauff, who came from behind to defeat Romanian Sorana Cirstea, 4-6, 6-3, 7-5.
Trailing 3-0 in the deciding set, Gauff won the next three games after kicking her performance into the next gear.
"I was just trying to stay calm mostly and stay positive. I've always believed that I can come back regardless of the score," she said.
"I think 0-30, 0-3 -- I think it was 0-30 -- that's when I think I kind of changed everything and decided to be more aggressive. "The whole match I knew I needed to be more aggressive. I guess I finally decided to do that even though I wish I decided earlier. That's OK."
Gauff next will face third-seeded Naomi Osaka of Japan, who ousted Saisai Zheng of China 6-2, 6-4. It will be a rematch of the third round of the U.S. Open last summer, when Osaka defeated Gauff 6-3, 6-0 at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
"I think I'll be less nervous this time," Gauff said. "At the U.S. Open I was nervous. It was my first time on Ashe. For sure I'll be more confident because I've felt her ball before."
Caroline Wozniacki, who won the 2018 Australian Open, defeated No. 23 seed Dayana Yastremska of Ukraine 7-5, 7-5 to extend her stay in Melbourne -- and her career. The 29-year-old Dane announced last month she would retire after the tournament. She will meet Ons Jabeur of Turkey in the third round.
Other seeds advancing included No. 1 Ashleigh Barty of Australia, who will face No. 29 Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan. No. 10 Madison Keys, No. 16 Elise Mertens of Belgium and No. 18 Alison Riske also moved on.
--Field Level Media