By Zjan Shirinian

Serena Williams is bidding to win her 18th Grand Slam title ©AFP/Getty ImagesJanuary 17 - Serena Williams powered her way to a record 61st singles victory at the Australian Open, on another day of extreme heat in Melbourne.

The American, favourite to secure her 18th Grand Slam title at the Championships, has now surpassed the wins record of legendary Australian Margaret Court.

Williams, a five-time Australian Open winner, dispatched Slovakian Daniela Hantuchova 6-3, 6-3 in their third round tie, in as comfortable a fashion as the scoreline suggests.

The number one seed and tournament favourite - who will match Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert's haul of Grand Slams if she wins the title a week on Saturday (January 25) - will play Serbia's Ana Ivanovic next.

Ivanovic triumphed over home favourite Sam Stosur 6-7, 6-4, 6-2.

Former French Open champion Li Na, of China, had a tricky three set tussle with Czech Lucie Safarova, eventually winning 1-6, 7-6, 6-3.

On the men's side of the draw, David Ferrer of Spain beat Jeremy Chardy of France 6-2, 7-6, 6-2 in their third round match.

Novak Djokovic 2Novak Djokovic is through to the fourth round of the Australian Open after victory over Denis Istomin on Rod Laver Arena ©Getty Images

Serbian number two seed Novak Djokovic also won in straight sets over Denis Istomin, of Uzbekistan, 6-3, 6-3, 7-5.

After yesterday's play on the open courts was suspended for more than four hours when the "extreme heat policy" was implemented, temperatures once again pushed past 40 degrees Celcius on day five of the Open.

But the heat wasn't enough for referee Wayne McKewen to halt play.

The temperature yesterday reached more than 43 degrees Celcius, compared to 41.4 degrees Celcius today.

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