Andy Brownbill/Associated Press
Serena Williams has never lost to second-round opponent Lucie Safarova.

Serena Williams has much to prove if she wants to regain her status as the top women’s player in the world.

She gets her second chance in the Australian Open when she meets Lucie Safarova in the second round Thursday morning at 3 a.m. ET.

Williams started the tournament with a straight-set victory over Belinda Bencic, and she will try to establish her dominance once again. 

Safarova has been one of her favorite opponents during her career, as she has built a 9-0 record against the Czech player. Williams is trying to regain the No. 1 ranking she lost to Angelique Kerber last year.

Kerber picked up a second-round victory over Carina Witthoeft by a 6-2, 6-7 (3), 6-2 margin. Kerber has been extended to three sets in each of her first two matches, and that’s not the best way for the No. 1 seed to begin the tournament. 

“I was doing, I think, a lot of mistakes like in the important moments,” Kerber told Greg Garber of “But at the end, I’m happy that I won the match. It was not so easy. The [breezy] conditions were, like, also a little bit difficult today.”

On the men’s side, Roger Federer continued his comeback with a second-round victory over American Noah Rubin. Federer is seeded 17th after sitting our six months following knee surgery, and he defeated his 20-year-old opponent by a 7-5, 6-3, 7-6 (3) margin.

Australian Open: Second Round
Pablo Carreno Busta (30) Kyle Edmund 7 p.m. Edmund
Donald Young Philipp Kohlschreiber (32) 7 p.m. Kohlschreiber
Carlos Berlocq Richard Gasquet (18) 7 p.m. Gasquet
Gilles Simon (25) Rogerio Dutra Silva 9 p.m. Simon
Roberto Bautista Agut (13) Yoshihito Nishioka 9 p.m. Nishioka
Grigor Dimitrov (15) Hyeon Chung 9 p.m. Dimitrov
Ernesto Escobedo David Ferrer (21) 9:30 p.m. Ferrer
Gilles Muller Milos Raonic (3) 11 p.m. Raonic
Denis Istomin Novak Djokovic (2) 11 p.m. Djokovic
Radek Stepanek David Goffin (11) 11 p.m. Goffin
Ivo Karlovic (20) Andrew Whittington 11:30 p.m. Karlovic
Gael Monfils (6) Alexandr Dolgopolov 11:30 p.m. Monfils
Jelena Ostapenko Yulia Putintseva (31) 7 p.m. Putintseva
Sara Errani Ekaterina Makarova (30) 7 p.m. Errani
Karolina Pliskova (5) Anna Blinkova 7 p.m. Pliskova
Naomi Osaka Johanna Konta (9) 7 p.m. Konta
Oceane Dodin Caroline Garcia (21) 7 p.m. Garcia
Dominika Cibulkova (6) Su-Wei Hsieh 9 p.m. Cibulkova
Caroline Wozniacki (17) Donna Vekic 9 p.m. Wozniacki
Barbora Strycova (16) Andrea Petkovic 9 p.m. Strycova
Jennifer Brady Heather Watson 9:30 p.m. Watson
Elena Vesnina (14) Mandy Minella 9:30 p.m Vesnina
Alexander Zverev (24) Frances Tiafoe 1:30 a.m. Tiafoe
Benoit Paire Fabio Fognini 1:30 a.m. Paire
Dominic Thiem (8) Jordan Thompson 5 a.m. Thiem
Marcos Baghdatis Rafael Nadal (9) 5 a.m. Nadal
Nicole Gibbs Irina Falconi 1 a.m. Falconi
Danka Kovinic Timea Bacsinszky (12) 1:30 a.m. Bacsinszky
Daria Gavrilova (22) Ana Konjuh 1:30 a.m. Gavrilova
Alize Cornet (28) Maria Sakkari 2 a.m. Cornet
Mirjana Lucic-Baroni Agnieszka Radwanska (3) 3 a.m. Radwanska
Lucie Safarova Serena Williams (2) 3 a.m. Williams

The tournament will get much tougher for the 35-year-old Federer from this point forward. He has beaten two unseeded qualifiers, but his next match is against 10th-seeded Tomas Berdych.

“Berdych, yeah, it’s not an easy draw,” Federer told Garber. “Now a top-10 player, he’s beaten me in New York and at Wimbledon and the Olympics. He’s a great player. I like Tomas’ game—that’s a tough one.”

Top-seeded Andy Murray had no trouble handling Russian Andrey Rublev in his second-round match. Murray disposed of Rublev by a 6-3, 6-0, 6-2 margin.

While Rublev could not provide a serious challenge to the Scottish superstar, Murray turned his ankle at the start of the third set and finished the match in some difficulty. He complained about the injury to the supporters sitting in his box during the match but tried to downplay it when he spoke to the media afterwards.

“It’s just a little bit sore, it’s not too serious but I definitely rolled it a bit,” Murray said, (h/t PA Sport and “I’ll make sure I get some ice on it. I was moving OK at the end which is positive.

“Sometimes if you roll your ankle and it feels bad, you can’t put weight on it but I could put weight on it so I’m sure it’ll be fine.”

Second-seeded Novak Djokovic returns to action Wednesday night at 11 p.m. ET against Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan, while third-seeded Canadian Milos Raonic meets Gilles Muller of Luxembourg at the same time.

All matches are listed with start times in Eastern Standard Time. Matches listed with p.m. start times will be played Wednesday night; matches with a.m. start times will be played Thursday morning.

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