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Team WTAworld, Administrator, aka Nibbler
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Melbourne, Australia (Sports Network) - Venus Williams survived a scare in third-round action at the Australian Open on Thursday, posting a three-set victory over Daniela Hantuchova, while four-time champion Monica Seles advanced with a straight-set victory over Italy's Francesca Schiavone.

The second-seeded Williams has been battling a knee injury and struggled against the 18-year-old Hantuchova, earning a 3-6, 6-0, 6-4 victory. Seles, the eighth seed, notched a tough 6-4, 6-4 triumph over Schiavone.

Williams fell behind early in the first set and never recovered, then came away with three breaks of serve in an easy second set to even the match.

"After the first set, I settled in. I got comfortable," said Williams.

Williams broke serve again, battling back from love-40, to win her seventh straight game to open the third set. She then held for a 2-0 lead, but Hantuchova came back and won the next three games.

The next two games went to Williams, but Hantuchova broke back to tie it at 4-4. Another break by Williams gave her the lead, and she dropped only one point on serve in the final game to capture the match.

"She played very well, ran down all kinds of balls, was doing all the right things," said Williams. "I've been in these situations more than she has, so I was probably a bit more prepared."

Hantuchova agreed.

"On the big points I went for it and I missed it. I think a little bit of inexperience cost me the match."

Williams, who hobbled through her second-round victory over Kristina Brandi two days ago, was running better on Friday. She is trying for her third straight Grand Slam title, having won Wimbledon and the U.S. Open last summer.

Next up for the four-time Grand Slam champion is 13th-seeded Magdalena Maleeva of Bulgaria, who toppled 18th-seeded American Lisa Raymond, 7-5, 6-1.

The eighth-seeded Seles needed nearly 90 minutes to dispose of Schiavone, who had beaten Seles in an exhibition match at the Hopman Cup two weeks ago.

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"We played a marathon match there, and no different here," said Seles. "She's such a fighter. She doesn't give you any free points."

Schiavone, seeded 31st and currently ranked 36th in the world, broke Seles' serve to start each set, but had her own serve broken four times. She held a 4-2 lead in the opening set, but lost the final four games.

Seles, meanwhile, committed four double-faults and also had 29 unforced errors. She had her serve broken again at 5-3 in the second set, but won four straight points to close out the match.

"It was a very tough match," said Seles. "She was running down a lot of balls and I was making some mistakes there in the first set. But I think in the key points I played well."

Seles won this title in each of the first four years she entered (1991-93 and 1996), and was a semifinalist in 1999 and a quarterfinalist last year -- the only other two years she played in Melbourne.

The nine-time Grand Slam champion will next play Spain's Ana Isabel Medina Garriques, who topped France's Nathalie Dechy, 6-3, 6-2.

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Also on Thursday, unseeded Adriana Serra Zanetti upended 11th seed Silvia Farina Elia, 6-2, 4-6, 6-4, in a battle of Italians, and will next face Slovakia's Martina Sucha, who rolled past Sweden's Asa Svensson, 6-0, 6-4.

Amanda Coetzer, the 15th seed from South Africa, cruised past Austria's Barbara Schett, 6-3, 6-3.
 
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