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Serena Williams defeats Daria Kasatkina in the Australian Open third round

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Serena Williams showed no mercy to Daria Kasatkina in a straight-sets victory at the Australian Open on Friday, but then offered words of encouragement to the overawed teenager.

The six-time Melbourne Park winner and defending champion easily out-muscled the young Russian 6-1 6-1 on Rod Laver Arena in just 44 minutes, the shortest match of the tournament so far.

It sets her up with a fourth-round clash against another Russian, Margarita Gasparyan, with a quarter-final beckoning against old foe Maria Sharapova – a showdown Williams would be confident of winning having beaten Sharapova in every match they have played since 2004.

“I definitely think I played better today. Everything I’ve been trying to work on was kind of clicking today,” she said.

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“I thought I played pretty well in the other matches. My first match I thought I gave a great effort. My second match I thought, under the circumstances, I thought I played well. Hopefully with each match I can just do better.”

Playing on centre court against the top seed at a Grand Slam was a huge occasion for the 18-year-old Kasatkina, the world No 69, who was not just making her debut at the tournament but is on her first ever trip to Australia.

The teen only played her first WTA tournament last April, but has so far managed to score three wins over top 50 opposition, signalling her promise, and Williams took time to console her after the match.

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“She has such a bright future. She’s so young and she’s headed in the right direction,” she said, adding that she felt it was important for older players to help nurture the younger generation.

“I think it’s important. We definitely want to encourage each other. This is our sport. We want to see it grow,’ she said.

“Ultimately you want to see it be the best sport for women and continue to be the best sport and biggest sport for women. Hopefully we can all encourage and just hope for the best.”

(Sky news)

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