Melbourne, Australia (SportsNetwork.com) - Two-time defending champion
Victoria Azarenka and former titlist Maria Sharapova were first-round victors
in Tuesday's first-round action at the Australian Open, the first Grand Slam
event of the year.
On a sweltering Day 2 at Melbourne Park, the former world No. 1 Azarenka,
seeded second, defeated Swede Johanna Larsson 7-6 (7-2), 6-2, while the
third-seeded former top-ranked star Sharapova handled American Bethanie
Mattek-Sands 6-3, 6-4.
Azarenka was tested at Rod Laver Arena.
"Yeah it was a tough set first. The match was going to be tricky ... the
weather was not helping," Azarenka said. "I had to play a little bit and find
Azarenka hasn't lost at this event since 2011, as she defeated two-time
runner-up Li Na in last year's final and Maria Sharapova in the 2012
Her second-round opponent on Thursday will be Czech Barbora Zahlavova
Strycova, while up next for the career Grand Slam winner Sharapova will be
Italian Karin Knapp. Sharapova titled here in 2008 and is a two-time Aussie
Meanwhile, fifth-seeded Pole Agnieszka Radwanska had her hands full with Yulia
Putintseva of Kazakhstan, but eventually posted a 6-0, 5-7, 6-2 victory, and
eighth-seeded former world No. 1 Jelena Jankovic of Serbia whipped Japan's
Misaki Doi 6-1, 6-2.
The former Wimbledon runner-up Radwanska's second-round opponent will be
Belarusian Olga Govortsova.
Tenth-seeded former top-ranked star Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark drilled
Spain's Lourdes Dominguez Lino 6-0, 6-2, while 11th-seeded rising Romanian
Simona Halep also had little trouble in a 6-0, 6-1 victory over Poland's
Katarzyna Piter, and 13th-seeded American Sloane Stephens erased Kazakhstan's
Yaroslava Shvedova 7-6 (7-1), 6-3. Stephens shocked Serena Williams in a
quarterfinal bout here a year ago.
Playing her first Grand Slam match since her New Year's Eve engagement to
golfer Rory McIlroy, Wozniacki did everything she could to keep cool on
"Every time in the changeovers, ice bags, ice towels, everything; and then in
the second set I could feel they were starting to heat up even more,"
Wozniacki said. "I put the bottle down on the court and it started melting a
little bit underneath, the plastic, so you knew it was warm."
Sixteenth seed Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain moved on with a 6-3, 6-2
victory over American Vania King, while Ukrainian Elina Svitolina swept
out 19th-seeded two-time major champion Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia 6-3,
6-3, and 20th-seeded Slovak Dominika Cibulkova subdued former French Open
champ Francesca Schiavone 6-3, 6-4.
In other action involving seeds, New Zealand's Marina Erakovic doused No. 21
Romanian Sorana Cirstea 6-4, 7-6 (8-6); Spain's Garbine Muguruza, fresh off
her first career WTA title in Hobart last week, took out No. 24 Estonian Kaia
Kanepi 6-2, 2-6, 6-2; No. 25 Frenchwoman Alize Cornet was leading Slovenian
Polona Hercog 1-0 in the opening set when Hercog retired; No. 29 Russian
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova bested Brazilian Teliana Pereira 7-6 (9-7),
6-4; No. 32 Slovak Magdalena Rybarikova got past former top-10 German Andrea
Petkovic 6-2, 6-3; and No. 33 Serb Bojana Jovanovski overcame Slovak Jana
Cepelova 6-7 (1-7), 6-1, 6-3.
Several other women reached the second round, including Americans Christina
McHale and Varvara Lepchenko, Italian Camila Giorgi, and Japan's Ayumi Morita
and Kurumi Nara.
The Sports Network