MELBOURNE, Jan 16 (Reuters) - Victoria Azarenka marched into the Australian Open third round with a 6-1 6-4 win over Czech Barbora Zahlavova Strycova on Thursday to stay on course for a hat-trick of titles at Melbourne Park.
In a clash of former junior champions at Melbourne Park, the powerful Belarusian was dragged into a streetfight by the 84th ranked Czech but stayed firm to serve out the match in less than an hour and a half of a balmy evening session at Rod Laver Arena.
Azarenka avoided the blistering heat that plagued second round action and saw play suspended for four hours but was made to sweat as Zahlavova Strycova scrambled to chase down almost everything thrown at her.
Azarenka next faces the winner of Serbia's Bojana Jovanovski and Yvonne Meusburger of Austria. (Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)