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Serena, Li advance at Aussie Open

Melbourne, Australia (SportsNetwork.com) - Top seed and five-time titlist Serena Williams and last year's runner-up Li Na both notched straight-set victories Wednesday in second-round action at the Australian Open, the first Grand Slam event of the year.

Serena dropped just three games for the second straight match, earning a 6-1, 6-2 win over Serb Vesna Dolonc at Rod Laver Arena to improve to 60-8 at Melbourne Park, equaling Margaret Court's record for match wins at the tournament in the Open Era.

Wednesday was another scorching hot day in Melbourne.

"I just try to hit a bunch of aces and a bunch of winners -- that's all you can do because it's too hot to get into long rallies," Serena said.

The reigning U.S. and French Open champion will square off with Daniela Hantuchova in the third round after the 31st-seeded Slovak outlasted Czech Karolina Pliskova 6-3, 3-6, 12-10.

The fourth-seeded Li, who lost to two-time reigning champion Victoria Azarenka in last year's Aussie finale, bageled Belinda Bencic in a 22-minute first set, but faced much more resistance in the second as the 16-year-old Swiss wild card forced a tiebreak.

The Chinese star, however, was able to gut out a 6-0, 7-6 (7-5) victory.

"It's warm, but it's OK," Li said after the match.

Lucie Safarova awaits the two-time Aussie Open runner-up and former French Open champion Li in the third round after the 26th-seeded Czech claimed a 6-7 (4-7), 6-3, 6-0 victory over countrymate Lucie Hradecka.

Last week's Sydney runner-up, ninth-seeded German Angelique Kerber, cruised to a 6-4, 6-2 win over Russian Alla Kudryavtseva and will take on American Alison Riske in the third round after Riske whipped Belgian Yanina Wickmayer 6-1, 6-1.

Aussie crowd favorite Sam Stosur, the No. 17 seed, secured her spot in the round of 32 with a 6-2, 6-0 victory over Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova, who was fresh off her first-ever WTA title in Sydney last week.

Stosur will next face 14th-seeded Ana Ivanovic after the former world No. 1 from Serbia drilled Annika Beck of Germany 6-1, 6-2. Ivanovic was an Aussie Open finalist in 2008.

No. 15 seed Sabine Lisicki and 18th-seeded Kirsten Flipkens each suffered surprising setbacks on Day 3.

Romanian Monica Niculescu sent last year's Wimbledon runner-up Lisicki to an early exit, 2-6, 6-2, 6-2, while Aussie wild card Casey Dellacqua downed the Belgian Flipkens 6-3, 6-0.

Next up for Niculescu will be Russian Ekaterina Makarova, who advanced with a 6-2, 7-5 triumph over American Irina Falconi. The 22nd-seeded Makarova dismissed seven-time Grand Slam winner Venus Williams in Monday's opening-round action.

No. 28 seed Flavia Pennetta of Italy posted a 6-3, 6-4 decision against Puerto Rican Monica Puig to set up a third-round matchup with German Mona Barthel, who overcame Thailand's Luksika Kumkhum 4-6, 6-3, 6-4. Kumkhum was coming off an upset win over sixth-seeded Petra Kvitova in round one.

Also on Wednesday, 30th-seeded Canadian Eugenie Bouchard registered a hard- fought 6-2, 7-6 (12-10) victory over France's Virginie Razzano, Chinese Zheng Jie moved on with a 7-6 (7-5), 1-6, 7-5 win over American Madison Keys and American Lauren Davis outlasted German Julia Goerges 7-5, 2-6, 6-4.

The second round will conclude on Thursday, including matches for the second- seeded Azarenka and her third-seeded fellow former world No. 1 Maria Sharapova. Azarenka will face Czech Barbora Zahlavova Strycova, while Sharapova will take on Italian Karin Knapp.

Azarenka hasn't lost in Melbourne since 2011, having bested Li in last year's Aussie final and defeating Sharapova in the 2012 finale. Sharapova titled here in 2008.

In other action involving top-10 seeds, No. 5 former Wimbledon runner-up Agnieszka Radwanska will battle Belarusian Olga Govortsova, No. 8 former world No. 1 and former U.S. Open runner-up Jelena Jankovic will trade shots with Japan's Ayumi Morita and No. 10 former top-ranked star and former U.S. Open finalist Caroline Wozniacki will be opposed by American Christina McHale.

Also seeing action on Thursday will be 11th-seeded Simona Halep and 13th- seeded American Sloane Stephens, who stunned Serena in a quarterfinal here a year ago.