Ash Barty insisted her leg issue was not impacting her at all after reaching the Australian Open third round.

The world number one overcame Australian compatriot Daria Gavrilova 6-1 7-6 (9-7) on a warm and windy Rod Laver Arena on Thursday.

But Barty's left thigh was heavily strapped and she gave up a 5-2 lead in the second set before saving two set points in the tie-break.

However, the 2019 French Open champion played down the severity of the issue.

"The bandage is very big, but that's more just support so that the tape itself doesn't fall off. It's not a very subtle tape job, you often see it on a lot of the girls," Barty told a news conference.

"The guys can hide it beneath their shorts a little bit better. Just a little bit of support. I played a lot of matches in the last 10 days after not playing for 12 months, which is natural.  It's more of an assistance than anything else."

Barty added: "It came on early Tuesday, warming up for the match. But, yeah, obviously it's not affecting the way that I can play in any way.

"It's just more giving the leg some assistance to make sure it doesn't get to a point where it's going to affect me."

Barty will face Ekaterina Alexandrova in the third round.

Sofia Kenin's Australian Open title defence came to an end with a second-round loss to Kaia Kanepi on Thursday.

Kenin, who won her first and only grand slam title in Melbourne last year, fell to Kanepi 6-3 6-2 on a warm and windy day.

The American fourth seed had lost her only previous meeting against Kanepi and was again no match for the 35-year-old Estonian.

Kenin's second-round loss marked her earliest exit at a grand slam since Wimbledon in 2019.

She finished with 10 winners and 22 unforced errors, while Kanepi was far steadier with 22 and 17 respectively.

It continued a tough run for defending champions in Melbourne, where Victoria Azarenka was the last woman to go back-to-back in 2012 and 2013.

The last woman to defend any major crown was Serena Williams at Wimbledon in 2016.

Kanepi moved into the third round of a major for the first time since the 2019 French Open.

She will next face Croatian 28th seed Donna Vekic.

Ash Barty overcame Daria Gavrilova in straight sets at the Australian Open on Thursday amid some concerns over a suspected thigh injury.

Barty lost just 10 points in her first-round win against Danka Kovinic and the world number one got past Gavrilova 6-1 7-6 (9-7) on a warm and breezy Rod Laver Arena.

But she struggled to close out her fourth victory in five meetings with her fellow Australian amid worries over heavy strapping on her left thigh.

She will face either Barbora Krejcikova or Ekaterina Alexandrova in the third round, which she reached at Melbourne Park for the fifth straight year.

Barty was broken in the first game after three unforced errors, but Gavrilova was unable to consolidate and it proved costly.

A double fault from Gavrilova handed Barty a 3-1 lead and the 2019 French Open champion capitalised to claim the first set in 27 minutes.

Barty served three double faults in the second game of the second set, yet she again broke back immediately and proceeded to take a 5-2 lead.

But the contest started to turn from then as Gavrilova reeled off four straight games, with errors proving costly for Barty.

However, a pair of forehands into the net saw Gavrilova squander two set points in the tie-break and she was punished as Barty finally closed out victory.

 

Data Slam: Barty builds Aussie dominance
With her win over Gavrilova, Barty improved her career record against fellow Australians to 26-6. It marked her first meeting with a compatriot at a grand slam.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Barty – 20/34
Gavrilova – 10/29

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Barty – 7/6
Gavrilova – 2/6

BREAK POINTS WON
Barty – 6/6
Gavrilova – 4/10

Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka sizzled in the scorching Melbourne heat on day three of the Australian Open. 

Williams, aiming once more for a record-equalling 24th singles grand slam, made serene progress from round two on what was the hottest day of the tournament so far. 

It was a similar story for Osaka, who is aiming to become a two-time champion at Melbourne Park, but Simona Halep had to dig deep while Bianca Andreescu and Petra Kvitova were early casualties on Wednesday.


PLAIN SAILING FOR SERENA AND OSAKA

Williams' perfect start to the season extended to 5-0 as she swatted aside Nina Stojanovic 6-3 6-0 to set up a round-three meeting with Anastasia Potapova – the same opponent she overcame in Melbourne in the first round a year ago. 

The seven-time Australian Open champion is looking forward to renewing acquaintances with the Russian. 

"It's always a fun, interesting match [against Potapova]. I'm gonna go home, get ready and just do the best," she said.  

"We're all out here to have fun and I'm happy to be out here, and just to be playing in front of crowd again is really cool. So every day is just fun." 

Osaka, the current US Open champion and the winner in Melbourne two years ago, hammered former world number four Caroline Garcia 6-2 6-3 on Rod Laver Arena in the evening session. 

The Japanese star is set to face her friend Ons Jabeur for the first time in an official match in round three. 

"She's really funny," Osaka said of her next opponent. "I don't know if you guys watch any of her interviews. I think she is really funny and nice.  

"I think the match I am going to play against her will be really difficult, but I'm looking forward to it." 


HALEP SURVIVES TOMLJANOVIC TEST

In contrast to Williams and Osaka's comfortable wins, second seed Halep was taken to the brink by home favourite Ajla Tomljanovic, who won the first set and was serving for the match in the third. 

However, 2018 finalist Halep broke back when trailing 5-4 in the decider and battled through with a 4-6 6-4 7-5 victory in a match that saw a combined 94 unforced errors (57 for Tomljanovic, 37 for Halep). 

"I was expecting that she would play very hard and very strong. I expected it to be a difficult match, but it was more than I thought. But I'm really happy that I can smile now," Halep said.  

"I was not that positive when I was talking to myself. I didn't talk about the score, I was just blaming myself, that I'm not strong enough to win against her. But in the end mentally I was maybe a bit stronger than her, and I didn't want to give up." 

Last year's losing finalist Garbine Muguruza (14) was too good for Ludmilla Samsonova in a 6-3 6-1 win, while French Open champion Iga Swiatek (15) dispatched Camila Giorgi 6-2 6-4. 

Aryna Sabalenka (7), Marketa Vondrousova (19) and Veronika Kudermetova (32) all made it through, but fellow seed Elena Rybakina (17) was beaten in straight sets by Fiona Ferro.


EARLY EXITS FOR ANDREESCU AND KVITOVA

Andreescu became the latest scalp for veteran Hsieh Su-Wei, who earned a commanding 6-3 6-2 victory and is now 4-3 against top-10 players in the slams since 2017. 

Eighth seed Andreescu won the US Open in 2019 but missed the entirety of last year with a knee injury, while her preparation here was disrupted by spending 14 days in quarantine after her coach tested positive for coronavirus. 

"After my first round, I thought I would feel more exhausted, but I felt amazing. Also, today the weather was a bit tricky. Being in the heart of quarantine I could have had those extra two weeks of like being in the heat and getting used to sweating and all of that," she said. 

Next up for Hsieh is Sara Errani, who defeated Venus Williams 6-1 6-0. The veteran American rolled her ankle towards the end of the first set and, despite needing two medical timeouts, valiantly saw out the match. 

Kvitova was a runner-up to Osaka in 2019 and appeared on course to recovery after dominating the second set against Sorana Cirstea. 

But amid sweltering conditions, the Czech ninth seed went on to lose the decider. 

"It was quite a rollercoaster, for sure," she said. "Unfortunately I couldn't take the chances to win the first set.  

"I think that was really the key of the match. She really had a great day today; she played a good game. I didn't really bring the best tennis today. It's really hurting."

Serena Williams is embracing the absence of line judges at this year's Australian Open as the record-chasing American superstar dubbed herself a "futurist, like Iron Man" after reaching the third round. 

The Australian Open is taking place without linespeople as a response to coronavirus restrictions at Melbourne Park, where "Hawk-Eye Live" technology is being used on every court. 

It is the first grand slam to replace all line judges with technology as the tournament seeks to limit the number of people on court amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

After easing past Nina Stojanovic 6-3 6-0 on Wednesday, 23-time grand slam champion and seven-time Australian Open winner Williams welcomed the use of technology.

"I like it," Williams, who is looking to equal Margaret Court's record of 24 slams, told reporters when asked about the technology post-match. "I didn't like it in Cincinnati because they had that in Cincinnati and I was, it was different. It was weird. 

"I like it now because it takes away a lot of the human error, which clearly I definitely don't need. I should be the biggest fan of that. 

"But I feel like sometimes I definitely still want to see that ball, but I'm like, okay, even if I see it, the computer's going to show me what the computer just said. So that's kind of how I think about it. 

"I'm a futurist, like Iron Man, so I definitely love technology and it's something that I invest in and so, yeah, I really think is right up my alley."

Williams owns a 359-51 grand slam record in her illustrious career – the only other player to pass 300 victories in the Open Era is Martina Navratilova (306-49).

The 39-year-old Williams is bidding to win her 11th major crown since turning 30.

Only Court (three), Navratilova (three), Chris Evert (two), Billie Jean King (two), Ann Jones (one), Angelique Kerber (one), Li Na (one), Flavia Pennetta (one) and Virginia Wade (one) have won grand slam silverware in their 30s.

Petra Kvitova made a surprise second-round exit at the Australian Open on Wednesday.

The Czech ninth seed and two-time Wimbledon champion fell to Sorana Cirstea 6-4 1-6 6-1 on a warm day at Melbourne Park.

Runner-up in 2019 and a quarter-finalist last year, Kvitova bowed out after a costly 44 unforced errors in two hours, three minutes.

Cirstea, meanwhile, reached the third round of the Australian Open for just the fourth time.

It marked the Romanian's first win over a top-10 player since 2017, when she beat Karolina Pliskova in Beijing.

Cirstea will face another Czech, 19th seed Marketa Vondrousova, in the third round.

Kvitova is among 10 seeds to have departed in the women's draw, joining Victoria Azarenka, Angelique Kerber, Bianca Andreescu, Petra Martic, Johanna Konta, Maria Sakkari, Wang Qiang, Zhang Shuai and Alison Riske.

Serena Williams booked her spot in the Australian Open third round with a straight-sets win over Nina Stojanovic on Wednesday.

Williams again looked in fine form on her way to a 6-3 6-0 victory over Stojanovic in warm conditions on Rod Laver Arena.

The American star is bidding to equal Margaret Court's record of 24 grand slam singles titles and is on track after her win in one hour, nine minutes.

As her serve gradually improved, Williams – who is dealing with a right shoulder injury – was in control for the most part to set up a third-round clash against Anastasia Potapova.

Stojanovic held her own early, but Williams broke for 3-1, a powerful forehand setting up break point before a backhand error from the Serbian.

Williams was struggling with her first serve – she had a first-serve percentage of just 52 in the first set – but dug herself out of a 15-40 hole to hold for 5-2 on her way to taking the opening set.

A break to begin the second set followed as Stojanovic powered a forehand down the line wide, and three consecutive backhand errors saw her cough up another break to fall 3-0 behind.

Williams took complete control from then on, finishing the second set without an unforced error and losing just nine points to quickly wrap up victory.

 

Data Slam: Williams' second-round dominance continues
Williams improved her record in the second round of majors to 73-2. It also stands at 19-1 at the Australian Open, where she last failed to reach the third round on her debut main-draw appearance in 1998.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Williams – 27/11
Stojanovic – 15/18

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Williams – 6/1
Stojanovic – 1/4

BREAK POINTS WON
Williams – 4/9
Stojanovic – 0/3

Bianca Andreescu's comeback bid came to a surprise end in the second round of the Australian Open, where the eighth seed was ousted by Hsieh Su-wei.

Andreescu was playing her first tournament since the WTA Finals in Shenzhen at the end of 2019 – a knee injury and fitness issues derailing the Canadian star after her breakthrough at the US Open almost two years ago.

The 20-year-old's stay in Melbourne did not extend beyond round two, however, as Hsieh stunned the three-time WTA Tour champion 6-3 6-2.

Andreescu struggled in Wednesday's first match on Rod Laver Arena – tallying 25 unforced errors in a forgettable one hour, 23-minute display in sunny conditions at Melbourne Park.

The loss to world number 71 Hsieh condemned Andreescu to her worst defeat since falling to Catherine McNally (628) at the 2018 ITF/$25k Lawrence-KA USA.

Taiwanese veteran Hsieh, 35, has now upset eight seeds in her career at grand slams.

A "calmer" Garbine Muguruza made a fine start at the Australian Open, while defending champion Sofia Kenin was left annoyed despite her victory.

A finalist at the Yarra Valley Classic last week, Muguruza's good form in Melbourne continued with a rampant 6-4 6-0 victory over Margarita Gasparyan in the first round on Tuesday.

Muguruza was runner-up at Melbourne Park last year, with the two-time grand slam winner looking for her first major success since 2017.

The Spanish star, who will face Ludmilla Samsonova in the second round, said she was reaping the benefits of a changed approach.

"I was for sure working very hard, and frustrated that the results weren't there for quite a few months. Sometimes you work hard, you want it so much, that doesn't help you," Muguruza said.

"It's hard to explain, but I felt like for a moment I was working hard, I was putting all the effort out there. The time that I had to go and compete, I wanted it too much. I was getting frustrated too early. At the end I couldn't let the racquet talk.

"I feel like now, after that experience, I managed to stay a little bit calmer and to just go and compete, probably have less expectations. I'm always, like, there and always so pumped. I'm just knowing myself a little bit better now, finding ways to compete and not let that energy and that desire, too much desire, get in the way probably."

It was a relatively good day for the top women's seeds, with Kenin – who conquered Muguruza in last year's final – winning through.

Ash Barty, Elina Svitolina, Karolina Pliskova and Belinda Bencic also advanced, while Victoria Azarenka's poor recent record in Melbourne continued.

KENIN ANNOYED DESPITE WIN

Kenin started her title defence with a 7-5 6-4 victory over Australian Maddison Inglis.

But while the American fourth seed mixed 23 winners with 27 unforced errors, Kenin said she felt her nerves as she defends a major crown for the first time.

"I was obviously quite annoyed the whole match. I felt like the first two points I started off well, then wasn't able to close out the first game. Obviously nerves happen," she said.

"She obviously played really well. She's a tricky opponent, tricky player. Yeah, it was quite hard on myself today, quite annoyed, as you said."

Kenin's next clash is a tough encounter against Kaia Kanepi, who brushed past Anastasija Sevastova 6-3 6-1.

BARTY, SVITOLINA AND PLISKOVA AMONG WINNERS

Barty made a spectacular start with a 6-0 6-0 thrashing of Danka Kovinic.

The world number one won the first 16 points and ended up losing just 10 for the match in an impressive start.

A two-time quarter-finalist at the Australian Open, Svitolina was tested but overcame Marie Bouzkova 6-3 7-6 (7-5) on Rod Laver Arena.

A huge challenge awaits Svitolina, who will next face Coco Gauff after the 16-year-old American beat Jil Teichmann 6-3 6-2.

Czech sixth seed Pliskova made quick work of Jasmine Paolini, wrapping up a 6-0 6-2 victory in just 47 minutes.

Bencic and Anett Kontaveit were among the other seeded winners.

NO EXCUSES FOR AZARENKA

A two-time Australian Open champion, Azarenka suffered a surprise 7-5 6-4 loss to Jessica Pegula in the first round.

The Belarusian's last win at the event came in 2016, having made first-round exits in 2019 and 2021 and missed the tournament in 2017, 2018 and 2020.

Azarenka was among the players forced to quarantine ahead of the major and while she said it played a part in her exit, she offered no excuses.

"Of course, it has impacted. Somebody who's coming out of hard quarantine and maybe has been able to adjust well, they'll go, 'Oh, maybe it hasn't impacted'. Somebody who lost early will say, 'Yeah, of course, it's impacted'. It would be hard to say," she said.

"Was that the best preparation for me? No. But try to sit here and find an excuse because of quarantine and this is just something that, as I said, it is what it is.

"I am disappointed that I wasn't able to perform that I knew I could. That's a bit hard to accept today because I knew I can play better, a lot better. At the same time I feel that I've tried everything I can to be able to be prepared, but unfortunately that hasn't worked out for me."

Greek 20th seed Maria Sakkari also bowed out after a loss to Kristina Mladenovic, while British 13th seed Johanna Konta retired injured while leading Kaja Juvan 6-4 0-2.

Ash Barty made an impressive start to the Australian Open, thrashing Danka Kovinic in the first round on Tuesday.

Barty, who last year became the first Australian woman to reach the semi-finals of the tournament since Wendy Turnbull in 1984, hammered Kovinic 6-0 6-0 on Rod Laver Arena.

Winner of last week's Yarra Valley Classic, Barty won the first 16 points against Kovinic and never looked back.

The world number one wrapped up victory in just 44 minutes, finishing the contest having lost only 10 points.

Kovinic's unforced errors piled up early – the Montenegrin made 14 in the first set – as 2019 French Open champion Barty quickly took control and the opener.

There was a very brief test for Barty to begin the second set, but the Australian was untroubled as Kovinic had no answers.

Barty will meet either Daria Gavrilova or Sara Sorribes Tormo in the second round.

 

Data Slam: Barty blitz sets up win
Barty made an incredible start, racing into a 4-0 lead without dropping a point. Her hopes of a golden set were ended when she sent a backhand long, but the start put her in immediate control.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Barty – 10/5
Kovinic – 3/28

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Barty – 5/0
Kovinic – 2/2

BREAK POINTS WON
Barty – 6/8
Kovinic – 0/0

Naomi Osaka said she was "really nervous" before facing Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova but showed no signs of that as she breezed into the second round of the Australian Open.

Osaka looked dominant on day one of the first grand slam of the year as she welcomed being able to play in front of a crowd at Melbourne Park, taking only 68 minutes to wrap up a 6-1 6-2 victory.

The US Open champion has beaten Pavlyuchenkova three times in a row after losing when they first met in 2017 but was wary of facing the Russian on Rod Laver Arena.

Third seed Osaka said: "I was really nervous coming into this match. I know that I've played her before, and it was really tough. I just wanted to play well.

"The most recent memory I have of playing her was in the Osaka final [that Osaka won 6-2 6-3 in 2019], so it's always really hard to play someone that good in the first round.

"For me, I feel like it might have also helped in a way because I calmed my nerves because I felt like I couldn't afford to be that nervous. But, yeah, it was a tough match."

Serena Williams and Simona Halep stormed into round two, but the 2016 champion Angelique Kerber crashed out with a 6-0 6-4 defeat to world number 63 Bernarda Pera.

Alison Riske and Wang Qiang were the only other seeds to fall, losing to teenager Anastasia Potapova and qualifier Sara Errani respectively, while Bianca Andreescu made a winning comeback.

 

Williams sisters among major winners to make serene progress

Serena Williams did not look at all troubled by a shoulder problem as she started her latest quest to win a record-equalling 24th major singles title with a 6-1 6-1 demolition of Laura Siegemund.

Her older sister, Venus, also advanced in straight sets, beating Kirsten Flipkens 7-5 6-2.

Iga Swiatek, the French Open champion, was too good for Arantxa Rus, winning 6-1 6-3, and Petra Kvitova got past Greet Minnen 6-3 6-4.

Kerber will not be claiming a fourth major crown this month after falling to Croatia-born American Pera.

 

Halep planning to oust another Australian

Two-time major winner Halep was a cut above Lizette Cabrera, winning 6-2 6-1 in 59 minutes, and is looking forward to facing another Australia in the second round in the form of Ajla Tomljanovic. 

"I like to be here, so I like to play Australians," Halep quipped.

"I feel good. My body is fit. It's always difficult to play a big hitter. So, I have to be strong on my legs, focus on myself and give my best.

"I expected a tough match because I played against her before and I know how it's gonna be. She's a good opponent, a good player, and I will focus just on myself like I do every time, but I'm ready for a good battle."

Andreescu back in business

Andreescu put her injury woes behind her, battling past Mihaela Buzarnescu 6-2 4-6 6-3 in her first match for 15 months.

The Canadian had not played in a grand slam since winning the US Open in 2019 but was back in business on John Cain Arena.

Eighth seed Andreescu said: "After the match, I sat down with my team a little bit, and I'm like, 'Oh, guys, here we go again, those three-setters' and they just started laughing because they obviously knew what they were getting themselves into.

"But those matches are super good for me in my opinion because it really shows that I can scramble when I really need to, or if there's some pressure I can dig my way through it somehow. When my back is against the wall, not only today, but I've noticed throughout my last couple tournaments in 2019, I've been able to pull through with those."

Serena Williams will win a 24th grand slam singles title despite the mental pressure of trying to match the record having held her back, Ana Ivanovic says.

American Williams breezed into the second round of the Australian Open on Monday with a 6-1 6-1 victory over Laura Siegemund.

She won her 23rd major singles title in Melbourne in 2017, taking her to within one of matching the all-time record held by Margaret Court.

However, she has failed to win any of the following 14 slams, marking the longest span in her professional career without lifting any of the four biggest trophies.

Williams has won 22 of her majors over the last two decades, at least 15 more than any other women's player in that time, but her most recent four slam finals have ended in defeat.

Ivanovic, the former world number one who reached the final in Melbourne in 2008, wonders if the significance of matching Court's tally may have added extra pressure on Williams.

However, she remains convinced the 39-year-old will claim another title, telling Stats Perform News: "Yeah, definitely after winning so many grand slams, you still have it and especially [as] she reached so many finals, even though she didn't win a title.

"So, I think it's just a matter of, she proved that she can win matches and she can get a part in the grand slams.

"I think she wants to go further for the record. So I think that's maybe a bigger issue than just winning a title. So, it's both a little bit, I guess mental as well. But I'm sure she can do that. And I'm sure that's why she's there and still pushing and still being on top of the game after so many years."

"She's definitely an icon and a very, very powerful player. And I remember you know, when I played against her, she's very intimidating because her serve is just very, very strong. Her shots are very strong. So you feel like you have to attack and move forward otherwise you don't really have a chance. It was very inspiring to play against her and to play against someone who reached so much in women's sport. I think she will go [down] in history. Definitely."

Reigning champion Sofia Kenin begins her Australian Open defence against home hope Maddison Inglis on Tuesday.

The 22-year-old is hoping to become the first women's player to win successive Australian Opens since Victoria Azarenka back in 2013.

Kenin was a finalist at the French Open last year after winning in Melbourne, having failed even to reach the last eight in her first 11 majors, but she was beaten in straight sets by Garbine Muguruza in the quarter-finals of the Yarra Valley Classic warm-up tournament.

"She seemed very, very solid and very consistent lately, so of course she has a big chance but, like I said, it's so difficult to talk because you don't see the players playing, you don't see what kind of form they're on and how the last months have been for them," said Ivanovic.

"And you know, without competition for so long again, it definitely is going to [have an] affect but she can indeed [win]. One Australian Open and then she went on to the French Open final, so she's definitely been very, very consistent and she's going to I think try to go again.

"I think that's why it's very hard to predict who will be the winner of a grand slam, especially on the women's side. But on the other hand, it's nice to see new faces and new players coming up, and it also brings new excitement to the tour."

Ivanovic also tipped French Open champion Iga Swiatek to challenge in the latter stages, adding: "I do like Iga Swiatek and the way she plays. I like her aggressive game. I like the fact that she runs around and hits her forehead, it was kind of the style that I had. So I really hope she can keep up the work that she did last year and continue to do well."

Serena Williams took inspiration from the "unbelievable" Tom Brady as she cruised into the second round of the Australian Open with a "vintage" performance.

Brady made yet more history on Sunday, the most successful player in NFL history winning a seventh Super Bowl as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat the Kansas City Chiefs 31-9.

The incredible Brady, 43, showed age is no barrier, throwing three touchdown passes – two of which were scored by his long-time friend Rob Gronkowski – and completing 21 of 29 throws for 201 yards.

Brady did now allow any interceptions as he picked up the MVP award at Raymond James Stadium.

Williams started her quest for a record-equalling 24th grand slam singles title with a 6-1 6-1 defeat of Laura Siegemund on Monday, then paid tribute to her fellow American Brady.

She said of his exploits: "It's unbelievable. I just was watching as much as I could to see. My only word is it's unbelievable. I kept saying: 'This is unbelievable, this is unreal'.

"You can't say it was the system he was at formerly [the New England Patriots]. It's definitely Tom Brady, he's Tom Brady. He's amazing."

Brady banished everyone from his house in the days leading up to the Super Bowl so he could fully focus on inspiring the Buccaneers to victory, but the 39-year-old Williams said she could never do the same as she would not want to be separated from her daughter, Olympia.

"I would not be able to go function without my three-year-old around," Williams said. "I think I would be in a depression.

"We've been together every day of her life, so... Is that healthy? Not at all! Not even close. But every single day I just want to be around her. It's great. Everyone's different.

"I can totally understand why he would banish because if I had the strength to do it, I would too.

"I could see it's definitely a distraction, especially every year that I've played except for the past few months, I finally am starting to get better at it. The first two and a half years was very difficult. I wasn't strong enough to do the banishment."

Williams, who will face Nina Stojanovic in the second round at Melbourne Park, was delighted with the manner in which she swept Siegemund aside and had no issues with her shoulder after withdrawing from a pre-tournament event citing an injury problem.

"This was a good start. Definitely vintage 'Rena'. It's definitely good. I think I'm pretty good at pacing myself in a grand slam," she said.

"I was happy just to get through it. Wasn't sure how my serve would be after a little bit of that shoulder, but it's feeling good, I'm feeling good. So, it felt really good.

"Last year was very crazy for the world, and to be able to do what I love and to be able to come out and compete and play at a grand slam, after the last 12 months, it makes me appreciate the moment even more."

Serena Williams' bid for a record-equalling 24th grand slam title started with a comprehensive win over Laura Siegemund at the Australian Open.

The American star was dominant on her way to a 6-1 6-1 victory over Siegemund on Rod Laver Arena on Monday.

Williams is aiming to join Margaret Court on a record 24 grand slam singles titles and she had no problems against the German in Melbourne.

She improved to 20-0 in the first round of the Australian Open, showing few signs of a shoulder injury she expects to be dealing with throughout the tournament.

Williams lost just 10 games in her previous two wins over Siegemund, but the seven-time Australian Open winner was broken in the opening game.

But Siegemund produced too many errors from then on, Williams winning in just 56 minutes to set up a clash against Nina Stojanovic.

 

Data Slam: Serena cruises after initial nerves
Williams was broken to 15 in the opening game when Siegemund produced a forehand return winner. However, she steadied, reeling off the next 10 games on her way to a comfortable win.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Williams – 16/15
Siegemund – 4/20

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Williams – 4/1
Siegemund – 0/3

BREAK POINTS WON
Williams – 6/9
Siegemund – 1/1

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