MELBOURNE, Australia -- Two-time Grand Slam champion Simona Halep is into Week 2 at Melbourne Park for the fifth consecutive year.
A contender for the No. 1 ranking -- Sabalenka can potentially overtake Ash Barty depending on results here -- the 23-year-old from Belarus admits her serve is still a work in progress.
The match started ominously, when Sabalenka had two double-faults and was broken in the first game.
But unlike the previous round, when she had nine double-faults in her first two service games and 19 in the match, the semifinalist last year at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open managed to almost halve that glaring statistic.
"I'm really happy right now," Sabalenka said, laughing, in her on-court TV interview. "Mostly I'm happy I made only 10 double-faults."
It's something she'll be working on ahead of her next match against No. 115-ranked Kaia Kanepi, who has reached the quarterfinals six times at Grand Slam events -- but only once since 2013 and never in Australia.
This was Kovinic's first appearance in the third round of a major.
Halep, by contrast, can count on plenty of experience in the latter stages of the sport's biggest events. She won the French Open in 2018 and Wimbledon in 2019 and made it to the final of the 2018 Australian Open before losing to Caroline Wozniacki.
"I feel good, I feel more confident now because last year was a tough year," Halep said. "So now I just enjoy playing tennis, I'm happy."
None of the other players remaining the women's draw has won as many tour-level titles as Halep's 23.
Cornet followed up her upset of No. 3 Garbiñe Muguruza by reaching the fourth round at the Australian Open for the first time since 2009.
In other third-round matches, 27th-seeded Danielle Collins of the U.S. rallied from a set and a break down to beat 19-year-old Clara Tauson 4-6, 6-4, 7-5. She'll next meet No. 19 Elise Mertens, who advanced 6-2, 6-2 over Zhang Shuai.
No. 7 Iga Swaitek beat No. 25 Daria Kasatkina 6-2, 6-3. The 2020 French Open champion will next play Sorana Cirstea, who had a 6-3, 2-6, 6-2 win over 10th-seeded Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who reached the French Open final last year and has been an Australian Open quarterfinalist in three of the last six years.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.