Williams, Safarova in French Open final rematch at Melbourne
In this Jan. 30, 2016, file photo, Serena Williams, of the United States, wipes the sweat from her face during her women's singles final against Angelique Kerber, of Germany, at the Australian Open tennis championships in Melbourne, Australia.
AP Photo/Rick Rycroft, File

Williams, Safarova in French Open final rematch at Melbourne

Dennis Passa (Associated Press) - January 18, 2017 - 4:55pm

MELBOURNE, Australia — On paper, Serena Williams' second-round match on Thursday against Lucie Safarova should be no contest.

The six-time Australian Open champion in search of her record 23rd Grand Slam singles title has beaten the Czech player all nine times they've met, including the 2015 French Open final.

But Safarova, ranked 61st, saved nine match points in the second set of her first-round match here against Yanina Wickmayer before advancing 3-6, 7-6 (7), 6-1.

So Williams may need to be patient, or ruthless, in the match which opens night play at Rod Laver Arena.

After her win Tuesday, Safarova wasn't aware of the extent of her feat.

"I stopped counting after a few (match points), I was like, just another one," she said. "But I was like, 'I'm just going to go for it and if she closes the match, well OK, but I'm just going to play my game.' It was exciting."

Safarova is expecting a fast start from Williams.

"Serena's always a tough opponent," Safarova said. "She hasn't played many matches so that could be maybe a little bit to my advantage, but she always comes out strong. I have nothing to lose so I'll be ready."

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