Serena Williams of the US hits a return to Edina
Gallovits-Hall of Romania during their women's singles
match at the Australian Open in Melbourne. REUTERS/Daniel
Serena Williams was in no mood to allow a painful tumble
to divert her from her path to a sixth Australian Open title
today and duly delivered a resounding 6-0 6-0 win to open her
campaign at the year's first grand slam.
World number one and defending champion Victoria Azarenka was
unable to match the third seed's ruthless dominance but also
progressed to the second round, while Andy Murray steadied
his grand slam nerves with a controlled three-set victory.
Second seed Roger Federer also came through his first round
match comfortably enough, beating Frenchman Benoit Paire 6-2
6-4 6-1 to embark on his campaign for an 18th grand slam
After an underwhelming opening day of the tournament on
Monday, the sheer breadth of star quality on display on the
show courts almost ensured a better day two under the sunny
skies at Melbourne Park.
There is no bigger personality in tennis than Williams, who
is chasing a third successive grand slam title after wins at
Wimbledon and the US Open, and the American almost inevitably
hogged the spotlight despite playing out on Hisense Arena.
Rampaging towards victory over Romania's Edina
Gallovits-Hall, the 31-year-old turned her ankle after
hitting a forehand from the tramlines and lay prone on the
court for a couple of dramatic minutes until medical staff
The injury immediately recalled the fall that injured her
other ankle at the Brisbane warm-up last year and ultimately
ended her 2012 Melbourne Park campaign.
"It was definitely a lot of pain," she recalled. "Also a
little bit of the memory, as well. So it was definitely a
little bit of both. But also at the same time trying to
gather myself together and trying to make sure that I can
She was soon back up, ankle strapped and in pain, to complete
the victory and said nothing would stop her from taking to
court for her second round tie against Magdalena Rybarikova
or Garbine Muguruza.
"I'll be out there," she said. "I mean, unless something
fatal happens to me, there's no way I'm not going to be
competing. I'm alive. My heart's beating. I'll be fine."
While Williams is pursuing her 16th grand slam single's
title, Murray is hoping to accumulate his second after his
breakthrough triumph at the U.S. Open last year.
The Scot, who like Williams opened his season by winning the
Brisbane warm-up, made short work of Dutchman Robin Haase
with a 6-3 6-1 6-3 victory in the first match on Rod Laver
"I thought I did a pretty good job from the start of
dictating the points and not giving him too many freebies,"
the third seed said.
"There's nerves in the build-up. You just got to try and
focus and play solid, you know, not make too many silly
mistakes. I did a good job of that today."
Women's top seed Azarenka was less convincing in her 6-1 6-4
victory over Romania's Monica Niculescu, forced to come back
from 3-0 down in the second set to prevent the match going to
With second seed Maria Sharapova having also won her first
round match without conceding a game, Azarenka might have
been looking to make a similar statement but the Belarussian
said she was just happy to be back on court.
"I couldn't wait to get out there and play," said the
23-year-old, who pulled out of the Brisbane warm-up after
suffering a toe infection following a pedicure.
"It's been a long week preparation... I think I had a good
first match. That's what I needed to get into that
competitive spirit, which I did. I'm happy."
After only two seeds fell in the entirety of day one of the
tournament, women's seventh seed Sara Errani and 12th ranked
Nadia Petrova departed in quick succession on Tuesday.
While Errani's 6-4 6-4 loss to Carla Suarez Navarro was not a
huge shock, 42-year-old Kimiko Date-Krumm's 6-2 6-0 victory
over Petrova earned her a place in the record books as the
oldest winner of a women's singles match at the tournament.
Former world number one Caroline Wozniacki looked like she
might also be on her way home but the 10th seeded Dane
battled back from a set down to beat German Sabine Lisicki
2-6 6-3 6-3.
Her extended match kept boyfriend Rory McIlroy, the golfing
world number one, from his bed in Abu Dhabi where he signed a
multi-million sponsorship deal on Monday.
"Great comeback by @CaroWozniacki! Off and running at the
Australian Open... Now I can get a few more hours sleep!,"
the Northern Irishman tweeted.