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Djokovic advances to Aussie Open 4th round

MELBOURNE, Australia -- Novak Djokovic extended his winning streak to 27 matches and stayed on track for a fourth consecutive Australian Open title with a 6-3, 6-3, 7-5 win Friday over Denis Istomin.

Djokovic, whose last defeat came against Rafael Nadal in the U.S. Open final, is aiming to be the first player to win four Australian Open titles in a row in the Open Era.

He is looking the part, despite being broken in his first attempt to clinch the match Friday.

He's won all three matches so far in straight sets and his major threats — top-seeded Nadal, Andy Murray and Roger Federer — are in the other half of the draw.

Before rain cooled things off at Melbourne Park, Serena Williams persevered through a fourth day of searing temperatures to also advance.

Serena Williams got on and off court as quickly as she could in the scorching heat Friday, registering yet another record with match win No. 61 at the Australian Open as she advanced to the fourth round with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Daniela Hantuchova.

The five-time Australian Open champion later withdrew from the doubles, avoiding any extra exposure to the blazing sun during the once-in-a-century heat wave that was gripping Melbourne for a fourth straight day.

Two-time finalist Li Na, the major threat to top-ranked Williams in the top half of the women's draw, had to save a match point before coming back to beat No. 26-seeded Lucie Safarova 1-6, 7-6 (2), 6-3 in 2 hours, 37 minutes.

Li, the 2011 French Open champion, joked that she needed the match practice “because I think the weather is not warm enough.”

Williams didn't face any serious danger in her win over No. 31-seeded Hantuchova, whose only win in 10 head-to-head matches came in the corresponding round at the 2006 Australian Open.

Williams equaled Margaret Court's Australian Open mark of 60 match wins with her second-round victory, and beat that in the third round when she also matched Lindsay Davenport's record of 69 main-draw matches here in the Open era. That means she'll set another record just by showing up on Sunday against former No. 1-ranked Ana Ivanovic, who beat 2011 U.S. Open champion Sam Stosur 6-7 (8), 6-4, 6-2 in a night match.

The temperature hit 39 Celsius (102 Fahrenheit) during Williams' match and topped 42 C (108 F) by the mid-afternoon, but humidity remained low and there was no reason for organizers to invoke the Extreme Heat Policy and suspend matches for the second day in a row.

No. 9 Angelique Kerber advanced earlier with a 6-3, 6-4 win over American Alison Riske, and said her main aim had been to “get off the court before it became really hot.” Kerber will next play No. 28 Flavia Pennetta, who advanced 6-1, 7-5 over Mona Barthel of Germany.

No. 22 Ekaterina Makarova advanced with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Monica Niculescu and No. 30 Eugenie Bouchard beat American Lauren Davis 6-2, 6-2 to set up a fourth-round match against Australian wildcard entry Casey Dellacqua, who beat 2010 semifinalist Zheng Jie of China 6-2, 6-4.

In addition, third-seeded David Ferrer advanced to the fourth round for a 10th consecutive Grand Slam when he beat No. 29 Jeremy Chardy 6-2, 7-6 (5), 6-2. The French Open finalists will next play Florian Mayer, who beat No. 20 Jerzy Janowicz 7-5, 6-2, 6-2.

No. 7 Tomas Berdych beat Bosnian qualifier Damir Dzumhur 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 and will next play No. 19 Kevin Anderson, who beat Edouard Roger-Vasselin 3-6, 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (5), 7-5.

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Serbia's Novak Djokovic plays a shot during his men's singles match against Uzbekistan's Denis Istomin in the 2014 Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on Friday, January 17. (AFP)

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