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Sluggish Serena Williams overcomes Elina Svitolina at the Australian Open

The slow starts continued for Serena Williams but she improved on her way to the last 16 in Melbourne.

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Serena Williams recovered from yet another slow start to beat Elina Svitolina in three sets at the Australian Open on Saturday.

The American world number one eventually defeated Svitolina 4-6 6-2 6-0 in their third-round clash on Rod Laver Arena.

But she was sluggish early on and started slowly, just like she did on her way to trailing Vera Zvonareva 5-3 in her second-round victory.

In the end, Williams found some of her best form and overpowered talented Ukrainian 20-year-old Svitolina " hitting 45 winners.

Svitolina broke in the opening game and again in the fifth to roll out to a 4-1 lead against a sluggish Williams.

A wonderful backhand cross-court pass and Williams' forehand into the net saw Svitolina into a 5-2 lead.

It was Williams' 12th unforced error, while Svitolina had produced eight winners in 26 minutes.

Williams got a break back in the eighth game when she forced Svitolina into a forehand error, one that hit the bottom of the net.

But Svitolina served out the set to love as Williams powered a backhand cross-court just wide.

Williams started the second set well and broke serve before recovering from 15-40 down to take a 3-0 lead.

Another break saw Williams " who had lacked energy early in the encounter " cruise into a 4-0 lead.

Williams had started to take control of the baseline rallies as Svitolina was pushed into a more defensive mindset.

The world number one took the second set and then broke in the second game of the third after Svitolina managed to put in just one first serve.

When Williams came from 15-40 down to take a 3-0 lead, she was in complete control.

Another break of serve followed before Williams sealed her win with a powerful cross-court backhand winner.

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