Top-ranked Serena Williams advanced to the semifinals at the Sydney International with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Vera Dushevina of Russia.
Dushevina sprayed a forehand wide to give Williams two match points and then double-faulted to finish the match in exactly an hour.
Williams, playing her only warm-up tournament ahead of her attempted title defence at the Australian Open, next plays France’s Aravane Rezai, who had a 6-3, 6-0 win over Italian Flavia Pennetta.
She said the strong breeze was a relief after a hot opening win here, although experiencing both conditions was a good test before the season’s first major starts on Monday at Melbourne Park.
“It was really windy out there, but it’s good to have a good result in the wind,” she said. “I definitely don’t think I played my best, but that’s comforting to know that today wasn’t my best.”
“I always try to get there usually around the semifinals and finals of the Grand Slams,” the 11-time major winner said. “I’m just doing the best that I can now to get there. Hopefully I have long way to go, which I think is always good.”
No. 2 Dinara Safina was playing Elena Dementieva later Wednesday in another quarterfinal. The winner will meet sixth-seeded Victoria Azarenka, who advanced 2-6, 6-2, 7-5 over Slovakia’s Dominika Cibulkova.
On the men’s side, Lleyton Hewitt started his bid for a fifth Sydney title with a 6-0, 6-2 win over Italian Andreas Seppi, reaching the quarterfinals with one 55-minute victory.
Hewitt won six straight games, then overcame an early service break in the second set and won six straight games to finish when Seppi double-faulted at match point.
“I’ve had match points against him and ended up losing - that scoreline today looks a lot better,” Hewitt said.
Hewitt next plays 2006 Australian Open finalist Marcos Baghdatis, who ousted sixth-seeded Viktor Troicki of Serbia 7-5, 6-3.
Another Australian advanced to the quarterfinals when Peter Luczak had an upset 1-6, 6-4, 6-2 win over second-seeded Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic.
Also advancing were Frenchmen Julien Benneteau and Richard Gasquet, who beat eighth-seeded Benjamin Becker of Germany 6-2, 7-6 (4), and American Mardy Fish, a 6-1, 6-2 winner over Russia’s Evgency Korolev.