Tennis

'Injury prone' Serena cruises along

QUICK WORK
Serena Williams has no problem dispatching Garbine Muguruza in two sets.
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Richard Evans

Richard Evans has covered tennis since the 1960s, reporting on more than 150 Grand Slams. He is author of 15 books, including the official history of the Davis Cup and the unofficial history of the modern game in "Open Tennis." Follow him on Twitter.

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MELBOURNE, Australia

First the ankle, now the mouth.

EYES ON MELBOURNE

EYES ON MELBOURNE

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Serena Williams wasn’t giving herself any lip as she beat Garbine Muguruza, a 19-year-old Spaniard, 6-2, 6-0, in the second round of the Australian Open on Thursday — she was just hitting it.

You have to produce a very strange follow-through on your forehand to hit yourself in the mouth with your racket, but never underestimate Serena’s ability to find new ways of hurting herself. After the cut foot in Munich, which remains a bit of mystery, and all the rolled ankles, we now have an injury that puts Williams firmly in the category of "accident-prone."

“Just busted wide open,” Serena replied when asked about her lip, acknowledging that the strike drew blood. “I was like, ‘Oh, no, I can’t have a tooth fall out.' That would be horrible.”

She professed to not understand how it happened.

“I don’t know why my racket was even in my face,” she said, licking her upper lip as she was talking. “I mean, it’s like I’ve been playing tennis far too long to hit myself. I think I was hitting a forehand. I’m like, 'Come on, Serena, pull yourself together.'”

She did and quickly cleaned up the first set as well as the lip. Then, fighting to retain her concentration, she struggled through a marathon first game of the second set, which lasted 18 minutes and contained 26 points. The young Spaniard was hitting the ball well and making the former champion run.

2013 Australian Open

DON'T SWEAT IT

Just because you can't watch all the early-round Melbourne action, we can take you there.

But at least Serena was showing no signs of being troubled by the ankle injury that seemed to have put her participation in the tournament in jeopardy when she rolled over on it in the first round.

“I didn’t feel anything today,” Williams said. “There was definitely discomfort when I hit yesterday, so when I woke up this morning, I was really shocked I didn’t have as much.”

Acknowledging she was taking tablets for pain relief, Serena quipped, “But I feel everybody in the tournament is probably on pain relief.”

With temperatures hovering near the 100-degree mark, it was a struggle for all the players, but it takes more than a dodgy ankle and fat lip to bring Serena down.

“In fact, I feel I’m on the up and up,” she said. “It can only get better from here.”

There was an excellent win for the rapidly improving Jamie Hampton from Auburn, Ala., defeating Thailand’s Luksika Kumkhum, 6-1, 6-2, in just 57 minutes. In the opening round, Hampton upset 31st seed Urszula Radwanska in straight sets.

On the men’s side, Andy Murray wasted little time in sweeping past Portugal’s Joao Sousa, 6-2, 6-2, 6-4, in 1 hour, 41 minutes on Melbourne Park’s second stadium, the Hisense Arena.

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