Defending champion Victoria Azarenka and Caroline Wozniacki reached the second round of the Australian Open in contrasting styles on a baking hot day in Melbourne.
Second seed Azarenka, who has won the title for the last two years, spent an hour and 46 minutes on court in defeating Swede Johanna Larsson 7-6 (7/2), 6-2.
Larsson twice served for the first set only for Azarenka to break back and then win the tie-break convincingly. The Belarusian described the conditions as “like dancing in a frying pan”, but said: “It wasn’t too bad. I went to practice after so I’m okay. It’s not easy those conditions but it’s the same for everybody. You just have to adapt to it and try to do the best things to prepare. Actually I felt better as the match was going on than in the beginning.”
Azarenka, who meets Czech Barbora Zahlavova Strycova in the next round, was not concerned by her first-set struggles. She said: “She played really well. I can’t say that I was surprised by that. She really went for her shots. The ball bounced a lot higher, which suited her. It took me a little bit of time to find my range.”
Tenth seed Wozniacki, meanwhile, dropped only two games in defeating Spain’s Lourdes Dominguez Lino 6-0, 6-2. She said of the conditions: “It was a little warm out there today. I put a (drink) bottle down on the court and it started melting a little bit underneath. ”
Wozniacki is playing in her first grand slam since becoming engaged to golfer Rory McIlroy. The 23-year-old has not reached the quarter-finals at one of the sport’s four biggest tournaments for two years.
Third seed Maria Sharapova had the best of the scheduling, beating Bethanie Mattek-Sands of the USA 6-3, 6-4 in the relative cool of night session on Rod Laver Arena.
Fifth seed Agnieszka Radwanska won the first set to love against young Kazakh Yulia Putintseva but thereafter found herself in a real battle before coming through 6-0, 5-7, 6-2.