Swiatek steps up to reach Open third round

Iga Swiatek has stepped up her game as a raft of ambitious American challengers plot their own path to Australian Open title glory.

After an uncertain start to the summer, Swiatek restored order with a more routine second-round Open win at Melbourne Park on Wednesday.

The world No.1 advanced to the last 32 with a resounding 6-2 6-3 victory over Colombian Camila Osorio and was joined in the third round by US heavyweights Jessica Pegula, Coco Gauff, Madison Keys and Danielle Collins.

Swiatek had to scrap her way back from a service break down in the second set of her unconvincing Open opener against Jule Niemeier on Monday night.

That was the Pole's first outing since suffering a crushing loss to world No.3 Pegula at the season-opening United Cup before withdrawing from the Adelaide International 2 with a shoulder issue.

The reigning French and US Open champion was still below her brilliant best for periods against Osorio, dropping serve three times, but at least looked to be slowly warming to the task as the Melbourne title favourite.

Swiatek raced to an early 4-0 lead and broke the South American six times in taking the match in one hour, 24 minutes under a closed roof on Rod Laver Arena.

"It was much tougher than this score says. It was really intense physically and Camila was really running to every ball. She didn't give up," the top seed said.

"She didn't give me many points for free. So I needed to really work for each of them and it was tough, but I'm happy that I was proactive and trying to just play a little bit to put pressure (on her).

"But I'm pretty happy that I won and I can play next round."

The straight-sets victory set up a third-round meeting on Friday with Spanish qualifier Cristina Bucsa, who ousted former US Open champion Bianca Andreescu 2-6 7-6 (9-7) 6-4.

Pegula also marched on with a 6-2 7-6 (7-5) win over Aliaksandra Sasnovich before 10th-seeded Keys preserved her unbeaten 2023 record with a 6-4 3-6 6-2 victory over Anna Blinkova.

Seventh-seeded Gauff laid down her marker with a 6-3 7-6 (7-4) victory over Britain's 2021 US Open champion Emma Raducanu and Collins fought back from a set down to beat Karolina Muchova 6-7 (1-7) 6-2 7-6 (10-6).

It took almost three hours for Collins - the No.13 seed and last year's runner-up to Ash Barty - to complete her win.

Sixth seed Maria Sakkari had a more challenging time advancing, the Greek ace needing more than two and a half hours to see off Russian teenage qualifier Diana Shnaider 3-6 7-5 6-3.

Shnaider is a member of the women's team at North Carolina State, the same university that produced Michael Jordan, and the 18-year-old at times bossed Sakkari round the court like the basketball legend did to his rivals for so many years.

"It was a very high level from both of us. She played an amazing match. She's very young, very promising. Maybe she should look at not going to college," Sakkari said.

"She had me running behind the baseline chasing balls and that's not usually my game."