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Serena Williams sets record at scorching Australian Open, Kerber and Mayer advance

Play has continued at the Australian Open despite ongoing scorching temperatures down under. Serena Williams beat an almost four-decade old record, while two Germans advanced to the fourth round.

Angelique Kerber and Florian Mayer both braved the heat to advance on Friday, while another German, Mona Barthel was eliminated.

Kerber, ranked No. 9 in the world rankings, beat American Alison Riske in straight sets 6-3, 6-4 and is set to meet Italy's Flavia Pennetta, who prevailed over Barthel, Kerber's Fed-Cup team-mate, 6-1, 7-5.

The 30-year-old Mayer reached the round of 16 in Melbourne for the first time in his career, beating Poland's Jerzy Janowicz 7-5, 6-2, 6-2. Mayer, who is ranked No. 37 in the world, will be the long shot to beat his next opponent, world No. 3, David Ferrer of Spain.

"He is definitely the favorite," Mayer said after punching his ticket for the next round. However, after victories over higher-ranked opponents Janowicz and Mikhail Youzhny, Mayer expressed confidence that he would be competitive against Ferrer.

"I can beat him. I will get my chances, I need to keep serving well and play aggressively," he said.

Defending champion Novak Djokavic of Serbia held off Uzbekistan's Denis Istomin for his 24th consecutive wine in Melbourne. The 26-year-old remains unbeaten since last year's US Open and is the favorite to repeat in Australia.

Meanwhile, one of the favorites on the women's side, Serena Williams of the United States defeated Slovak Daniela Hantuchova 6-3, 6-3, to win her 61st career match at the Australian Open, a tournament record.

Following her record-setting victory, Williams played down the high temperatures, which hit highs above the 40-degree-Celsius (104 Fahrenheit) mark for a fourth-straight day, and had forced play on the outdoor courts to be halted one day earlier.

"Today actually wasn't as hot, I think it was more hot yesterday. Honestly, on the one end I felt it was like a cool breeze coming over, so that was a good sign," Williams said.

pfd,dr/kms (APF, SID)

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