World number two Maria Sharapova credited just swinging away and not dwelling too much on her predicament to save two match points before sneaking into the third round of the Australian Open with a 6-1, 4-6, 7-5 victory over the 150th-ranked Alexandra Panova.

The 27-year-old Russian had been in danger of becoming the most famous victim of qualifier Panova's career before she banged out four booming forehand winners to stave off defeat at 5-4 down in the third set.

Eugenie Bouchard's strong record in Grand Slam tournaments continued when she beat Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands 6-0, 6-3 to also advance to the third round.

It took Bouchard just 54 minutes to seal her place in the third round [Reuters]

The seventh-seeded Bouchard won the match in 54 minutes.

Third-seeded Simona Halep also advanced with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Australian
Jarmila Gajdosova in a match that finished early Thursday morning.

Halep and Gajdosova didn't start their match on Rod Laver Arena until nearly midnight due to the length of the preceding five-setter in which Rafael Nadal beat American qualifier Tim Smyczek in four hours, 12 minutes.

Williams withdraw from doubles

Multiple grand slam champions Serena and Venus Williams withdrew from women's doubles competition before first-round action got underway.

Tennis Australia, which handles all of the withdrawals for the tournament, were unable to give a reason why the 13-time grand slam and three-time Olympic champions were unable to play their match against 11th seeds Anabel Medina Garrigues and Yaroslava Shedova.

Both Serena and Venus play their second round singles matches on Thursday.

Results (selected):

14-Sara Errani (Italy) beat Silvia Soler Espinosa (Spain) 7-6(3) 6-3

22-Karolina Pliskova (Czech Republic) beat Oceane Dodin (France) 7-5 5-7 6-4

Julia Goerges (Germany) beat Klara Koukalova (Czech Republic) 6-3 4-6 6-2

10-Ekaterina Makarova (Russia) beat Roberta Vinci (Italy) 6-2 6-4

21-Peng Shuai (China) beat Magdalena Rybarikova (Slovakia) 6-1 6-1

Source: Reuters