- Associated Press - Thursday, January 19, 2012

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA (AP) - Serena Williams was only two points from her 500th career match win when she tumbled to the court in the second round of the Australian Open.

It’s OK, she thought, it’s the good ankle. After sitting and watching Barbora Zahlavova Strycova’s shot float out to end the penultimate rally, Williams got up and whipped a backhand winner down the line on match point to move into the third round with a 6-0, 6-4 victory on Thursday.

It improved her career record to 500-104 in tour matches and it was her 16th consecutive match win at Melbourne Park, where she has won five of her 13 Grand Slam titles.

“It’s totally fine. It was my good ankle, so I’m good,” she said, playing down concern that the fall had aggravated the left ankle sprain which hampered her preparation for the season’s first major. “There was no extra pain. I twisted it. But it’s all taped up, so the tape really, really helped.”

She’d earlier put it down to just having “wobbly ankles.”

“I wasn’t meant to be a ballerina or anything,” she told a post-match TV interview. It seems she was meant to be a tennis pro. Her older sister, Venus, has a win-loss record of 589-147 but is missing the Australian Open to recover from illness.

“I knew I had to get there too, because I do everything she does,” said Williams, “It’s great, it’s like the ultimate.”

Not quite.

“The first thing I asked, of course, ‘Is there anyone that achieved a thousand?’” There’s been two: Martina Navratilova had a career record 1,442-219, and Chris Evert retired with a 1,309-146 record.

“I never will get there either, but it’s really cool,” Williams said. “Five hundred is a lot of matches to play, let alone to win.”

Williams won the Australian Open in 2009 and 2010 but didn’t get to defend her title in 2011 because she was injured.

Novak Djokovic won the last men’s title to kick off a stunning season, which started with a 41-match winning streak and finished with three of the four majors and the No. 1 ranking.

His 6-3, 6-2, 6-1 win over Santiago Giraldo of Colombia on Thursday was his 16th in a row in majors and keeps him on track to become only the fifth man in the Open era to win three consecutive Grand Slam singles tournaments.

Sixth-seeded Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who lost the 2008 Australian final to Djokovic, advanced 7-5, 6-4, 6-4 over Ricardo Mello of Brazil, while No. 5 David Ferrer struggled early against American Ryan Sweeting before coming back to win 6-7 (4), 6-2, 3-6, 6-2, 6-3

No. 9 Janko Tipsarevic, No. 23 Milos Raonic of Canada and No. 27 Juan Ignacio Chela also progressed. Frenchman Michael Llodra beat No. 32 Alex Bogomolov Jr. 6-1, 6-3, 4-6, 5-7, 6-4 and Portugal’s Frederico Gil beat No. 26 Marcel Granollers in four sets.

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