MELBOURNE, Australia, January 17- Serena Williams bounced back from an injured ankle to sweep into the Australian Open third round on Thursday, but now has a fat lip to worry about after hitting herself in the face.
The 15-time Grand Slam winner and third seed rolled her ankle on Tuesday but moved freely in her 6-2, 6-0 defeat of Spain’s Garbine Muguruza and said the injury felt better than she hoped.
“I didn’t feel anything today,” she said after plenty of ice and massage on the ankle and painkillers to dull any discomfort.
“Obviously when you go out to play you’re heavy on adrenaline and you’re really pumped up. Usually I feel injuries after the match, but so far, so good. I felt pretty much better than I ever dreamed of expecting to feel.”
Williams though remained in the wars after smashing herself in the face with her racquet while going for a lob at full stretch against Muguruza, a mishap that drew blood and left her dabbing her lip.
“I just busted it, busted it wide open,” she said of the lip.
“I think it happens to everyone, but I have never busted it wide open like that. So, yeah, I was like, ‘Oh, no, I can’t have a tooth fall out.’ That would be horrible.
“I don’t know why my racquet was even in my face,” she added. “I mean, it’s like I have been playing tennis far too long to hit myself. I’m like, come on Serena, pull yourself together.”
Asked if she felt she was having bad luck in Melbourne, she replied: “I’m on the up and up, I feel. It can only get better from here.”
Gunning for a sixth Australian title, Williams, who has admitted she’s eyeing the first calendar-year Grand Slam since 1988, showed little sign of the ankle problem in her workout against Muguruza.
She had never before played the 112th-ranked Spaniard, who was making her tournament debut, and she raced to a 2-0 lead before some uncharacteristic forehand errors allowed Muguruza to hold serve and get off the mark.
The American wasn’t at her best and then hit herself in the face in the sixth game. But she rallied to break once more for 5-2 and held for the set.
The second set opened with a marathon 18-minute game, with Williams finally prevailing to break. Any fight left in the Spaniard disappeared with the American taking only 19 more minutes to reel off the last five games.
Despite the scoreline, Williams said Muguruza, 19, had a bright future.
“I thought she played really well. I actually thought she improved as the match went on. She was blasting balls for winners and she has a pretty big serve,” she said.
“I didn’t know anything about her game, so it was one of those players I had to see in warm-up and see in the first two games how she would play.
“But I thought she played really well, and she’s only 19. I think she can do really well.”
She next plays Japan’s Ayumi Morita, who beat German Annika Beck, and if the draw goes to plan is scheduled to meet world number one Victoria Azarenka in the semi-finals.