MELBOURNE, Australia — Li Na advanced to the third round of the Australian Open with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Olivia Rogowska on Wednesday, her best run at a major since her breakthrough win at the French Open.
Li lost last year's Australian Open final to Kim Clijsters but rebounded at the subsequent major at Roland Garros to become the first player from China to win a Grand Slam singles title.
Her form dipped, with losses in the second round at Wimbledon and the first round at the U.S. Open, until she returned to Australia.
Coming off a run to the final at last week's Sydney International, Li is the first woman into the third round.
Li, who will be 30 next month and is seeded No. 5 at Melbourne Park, said she had great memories of the start of 2011.
"I'm feeling always good to come back to Rod Laver Arena," she said, reflecting on how her life had changed dramatically since last season started. "This year is much better than last year — more fans come to watch me play, not only from China but all over the world."
Clijsters was to play in the following match on Rod Laver.
Serena Williams advanced to the second round in a match that finished after midnight, her ankle holding up to its first test since she sprained it in Brisbane two weeks ago. The only thing that bugged her, despite the 11:32 p.m. start on Tuesday, were the insects in a 6-3, 6-2 win over Tamira Paszek.
"I hate bugs more than you can imagine," Williams said. "Like, they kept jumping on me. Yuck!"
Between points, Williams picked up and moved or shooed away bugs that landed on court, and two that landed on her back. A big one gave her a fright, making her hop as she tried to stifle a screech.
"I'm going to request not to play at night anymore because I hate bugs, except for the final. I heard it's at night," Williams said. "I'll try to get used to them."
Two years after she won her last Australian Open title, Williams extended her winning streak to 15 matches at Melbourne Park in the season's first major tournament. She won titles in 2009 and 2010 but missed the chance to defend her title last year amid a prolonged injury layoff.
Williams was playing only her third match since losing the U.S. Open final to Sam Stosur last September, so she admitted being "a wee bit tight."
"Physically I felt fine. I was definitely moving better than I suspected," Williams said. "I definitely think it was good because I moved a lot and I challenged myself a lot. She really pushed me physically. I think that's really something I needed to kind of feel and assess my ankle."
Stosur, the last woman to beat Williams, didn't make the second round. The U.S. Open champion lost 7-6 (2), 6-3 to No. 59-ranked Sorana Cirstea.
Her first-round loss mirrors that of Petra Kvitova, who went out in the first round of last year's U.S. Open after winning Wimbledon.
The second-ranked Kvitova advanced this time, winning the last 12 consecutive in a 6-2, 6-0 romp over Vera Dushevina of Russia.
No. 4-ranked Maria Sharapova won the first eight games of a 6-0, 6-1 rout of Gisela Dulko of Argentina.
Stosur is gone, but fans hung around to watch another Aussie hope. Hewitt, a two-time major winner and former Australian Open finalist, gave the night session crowd something to cheer when he beat Cedrik-Marcel Stebe of Germany 7-5, 6-4, 3-6, 7-5, winning the last six games to overcome two service breaks in the last set.
Hewitt's win put him into a second-round match against old rival Andy Roddick, who easily defeated Robin Haase of the Netherlands 6-3, 6-4, 6-1.
Defending champion and top-ranked Novak Djokovic dropped an early service game before winning the last 17 games to beat Paolo Lorenzi of Italy 6-2, 6-0, 6-0. Both the men he has beaten in Australian finals also advanced. Andy Murray, runner-up the last two years, defeated American teenager Ryan Harrison 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-2. Sixth-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, beaten by Djokovic in the 2008 final, eliminated Denis Istomin 6-4, 3-6, 6-2, 7-5.
Rafael Nadal, the 2009 Australian Open champion, and four-time winner Roger Federer were playing later Wednesday.
Federer makes a rare departure from Rod Laver Arena, playing his second-round match against Andreas Beck in the last match on Hisense Arena, the second show court at Melbourne Park. It will be the first time since a second-round win over American qualifier Jeff Morrison in 2004 that Federer hasn't played an Australian Open singles match on Rod Laver Arena.