Before anyone rushes to talk up the chances of Venus Williams winning her first Australian Open title, it is worth remembering that she will face stiffer challenges than the one posed to her by Ying-Ying Duan. Williams could hardly have wished for a more deferential opponent than Duan, who resembled little more than a hitting partner for the American.
The only positive for Duan after a painfully lopsided contest was the minor triumph of winning a game at the end of a first set that quickly assumed the feel of an exhibition. The world No87 left with her pride just about intact but still in need of major surgery after a crushing 6-1, 6-0 defeat and a brisk workout for Williams, who was detained for 58 minutes having admitted she knew “zero” about her opponent before the match.
It means the 13th seed should be fresh for her next assignment, which sees her meet Mona Barthel in the fourth round after the unseeded German edged out Australia’s last remaining player in the tournament, Ashleigh Barty.
Still going strong at the age of 36, Williams is yet to drop a set in Melbourne and she dismantled Duan with some gorgeous tennis, torturing the 27-year-old with 25 winners. But there are plenty of sharks left in the water.