Serena wins despite injury scare
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Serena Williams frightened a few people, including herself. Defending champion Victoria Azarenka had a momentary lack of concentration. Two of the biggest names on the men's side at the Australian Open — Roger Federer and Andy Murray — had straight-set wins.
Day Two at Melbourne Park yesterday brought another day of perfect weather but a few anxious moments for Williams, who fell awkwardly on her right ankle in her 6-0, 6-0 win over No 110-ranked Edina Gallovits-Hall.
Williams had the ankle heavily taped by trainers and was able to continue and still dominate the Romanian player. Later, she said she hoped to continue playing — she'll have a scheduled day off today, returning tomorrow to play her second-round match — and maintain her quest of winning her third Grand Slam tournament in a row and sixth Australian Open.
Azarenka trailed 3-0 in the second set of her match with Monica Niculescu before leveling the set at 4-4 and winning, 6-1, 6-4.
Told that her biggest threat on her half of the draw had injured her ankle, Azarenka wondered, tongue-in-cheek, how serious Williams' ailment could be: "I heard she won love and love, so what kind of injury are we talking about?"
Murray, playing with more confidence since his US Open win in the final over Novak Djokovic that ended a 76-year drought for British men in majors, beat Robin Haase of the Netherlands, 6-3, 6-1, 6-3. The second-seeded Federer defeated Benoit Paire of France, 6-2, 6-4, 6-1.
Murray needed just 1 hour, 37 minutes, and Federer 1:23 in their first-round matches. They'll need to conserve their energy for a potential semifinal against each other to determine a final against top-seeded and defending champion Djokovic, assuming all three men are still around on the final weekend.
In other men's matches, No 6 Juan Martin del Potro, 2008 finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, No 13 Milos Raonic of Canada, who beat Jan Hajek, 3-6, 6-1, 6-2, 7-6 (0), No 14 Gilles Simon, No 17 Philipp Kohlschreiber, No 21 Andreas Seppi and No 25 Florian Mayer advanced.
Local hope Bernard Tomic, who beat Djokovic at the Hopman Cup two weeks ago, defeated Leonardo Mayer of Argentina, 6-3, 6-2, 6-3, in a night match. Tomic has been on a New Year's high after winning his first ATP tournament on Saturday at the Sydney International.
Frenchman Gael Monfils beat No 18 Alexandr Dolgopolov of Ukraine, 6-7 (7), 7-6 (4), 6-3, 6-3, and Finland's Jarkko Nieminen ousted No 19 Tommy Haas, 7-6 (3), 4-6, 6-3, 4-6, 8-6.
Williams sounded almost matter-of-fact about her ankle ailment and its potential to affect her play in the rest of a Grand Slam she has won five times.
"I've played this tournament with so many injuries and was able to come off pretty on top," she said. "So for me, it's just another page and a great story to tell the grandkids one day."
Williams is favoured to win the season's first major, coming into Melbourne with 35 wins in her previous 36 matches, including titles at Wimbledon, the London Olympics and the US Open.
In other women's matches, former No 1-ranked Caroline Wozniacki won the last six games to beat Sabine Lisicki of Germany, 2-6, 6-3, 6-3, to advance along with No 16 Roberta Vinci, No 17 Lucie Safarova and No 29 Sloane Stephens, the American teenager who beat Simona Halep of Romania, 6-1, 6-1.
No 20 Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium beat local hope Jarmila Gajdosova, 6-1, 7-5, in the last of the night matches.
Former US Open and French Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova continued her comeback from a knee injury that kept her out of the US Open, ending her run of 40 consecutive majors. Also, No 14 Maria Kirilenko had a 6-4, 6-2 win over American Vania King, and China's Peng Shuai beat Canada's Rebecca Marino, 6-3, 6-0.