Serena Williams has joined her older sister Venus in the second round of the Australian Open, as the first tennis major of the season got underway at Melbourne Park.
- Serena and Venus Williams both won their opening matches in straight sets
- Naomi Osaka defeated Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-1, 6-2
- Milos Raonic and Stan Wawrinka both enjoyed victories in the men’s draw
Venus was the first of the siblings to advance when she beat Belgium’s Kirsten Flipkens 7-5, 6-2 on Margaret Court Arena.
Serena, who is chasing her 24th major singles title, progressed from the first round a little later in the afternoon on Rod Laver Arena via a convincing 6-1, 6-1 triumph over unseeded Laura Siegemund in just 56 minutes.
Third seed Naomi Osaka, the 2019 women’s champion, also won through after easily defeating Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-1, 6-2 in the opening match on Melbourne Park’s centre court.
Serena Williams is managing a right shoulder injury, which saw her withdraw from Saturday’s Yarra Valley Classic semi-final against Ash Barty.
There did not appear to be any concerns with her physical condition against the German Siegemund on Monday, however, as she breezed through to the next round.
But the 10th seed did experience a nervous start when her serve was broken by Siegemund in the opening game of the match.
It was a minor stumbling block, as she proceeded to power through the first set, which she won in 27 minutes, and then leapt out to a 4-0 lead in the second.
Siegemund held serve to halt her opponent’s 10-game winning streak, but there was nothing the world number 51 could do from preventing the seven-time Australian Open singles winner running away with victory.
Venus Williams reached the Australian Open second round for the 16th time in her decorated career.
The 40-year-old is a two-time singles finalist at Melbourne Park, having lost to her younger sister on both occasions (2003, 2017).
Osaka safely through
Osaka clinched the Australian Open women’s title on Rod Laver Arena two years ago and she showed why she is among this year’s tournament favourites with her win over the experienced Pavlyuchenkova in one hour and eight minutes.
Osaka, the third seed in Melbourne, entered the Australian Open with a minor injury (shoulder) concern that forced her out of the semi-finals of last week’s Gippsland Trophy at Melbourne Park, but she showed no signs of discomfort on Monday.
The warm-up event was the Japanese star’s first appearance on the WTA Tour since she won her second US Open crown last September.
On paper, Pavlyuchenkova appeared to be a tricky first-round opponent for Osaka.
The Russian had reached the quarter-finals of three of the past four Australian Opens and had been ranked as high as 13 earlier in her career.
But Osaka exerted her dominance early when she broke Pavlyuchenkova’s serve in the second game of the match, which was played in front of a small crowd in line with the Australian Open COVID-safe plans.
Osaka secured another two service breaks and only dropped serve once on her way to wrapping up the first set in 33 minutes.
A crisp backhand winner saw Osaka break Pavlyuchenkova in the third game of the second set and it was pretty much smooth sailing from that point for the three-time major champion.
A second break established a 5-2 lead and she served out the match to book a place in the second round.
Osaka made a shock third-round exit as defending champion in 2020 when she went down to US rising star Cori Gauff in straight sets.
She will back her chances of advancing from the second round this year as she will next face the 44th-ranked Caroline Garcia, who beat Polona Hercog 7-6 (8-6), 6-3.
In the men’s draw, Milos Raonic was the first to progress from the opening round following a 6-3, 6-3, 6-2 triumph over Argentine Federico Coria.
The Canadian was an Australian Open semi-finalist in 2016 and reached the quarter-finals at the past two editions.
The men’s 17th seed and 2014 champion, Stan Wawrinka, also won his opening match with a 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 victory over Portugal’s Pedro Sousa.
Earlier, the Australian Open welcomed spectators on the first day of the tournament.
Between 25,000 to 30,000 spectators will be able to attend each day.
A total of 390,000 people are expected to attend Melbourne Park across the fortnight, which is about half the average attendance in recent years.