Monday, January 18, 2016 5:29 am
It was a testy match for the American, with 21 grand slam titles, as she had not played competitive tennis since last September after she was ousted in the US Open semi-final by Italian Roberta Vinci. She also withdrew from the Hopman Cup because of a swollen knee injury.
Concern about her match fitness after she abandoned training a few days ago, also became an issue, but Serena insisted she was 130 per cent fit to defend her sixth Australian title.
The 33-year-old world number one came through the testy match unscathed against her lower ranked player.
Czech Petra Kvitova, two-time Wimbledon champion was the first woman to move into the second round, after she made a light work of Luksika Kumkhum from Thailand in straight sets of 6-3, 6-1.
Other women who have booked places in the second round are: Carla Suarez, Daria Gavrilova, Anna-Lena Friedsam and America’s Nicole Gibbs.
The first shocker of the day was the ouster of Sara Errani, the 17th seeded Italian, who fell to 21 year old, Russian player, Margarita Gasparyan. Errani, who had injury problems on court, lost to the 58th ranked player 6-1, 5-7, 1-6.
Then followed the second shocker, when American Sloane Stephens,seeded 24th lost to Chinese qualifier, 24 year old Qiang Wang, 3-6, 3-6. Stephens had won Auckland’s ASB Classic on 9 January.