Osaka, 'vintage' Serena Make Flying Starts At Covid-delayed Australian Open
Muhammad Rameez 2 months ago Mon 08th February 2021 | 03:30 PM
Melbourne, Feb 8 (APP - UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 8th Feb, 2021 ) :Naomi Osaka overcame an attack of nerves and Serena Williams put on a "vintage" performance as the coronavirus-delayed Australian Open finally got underway on Monday.
World number two Simona Halep also breezed past Australia's Lizette Cabrera in straight sets in another convincing start by one of the tournament's leading lights.
Men's champion Novak Djokovic opens his bid for a record-extending ninth title in the evening session at Melbourne's Rod Laver Arena.
Williams started her quest for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title in style with a 6-1, 6-1 romp past Germany's Laura Siegemund in 56 minutes.
"This was a good start, it was vintage Serena," said the 39-year-old, playing an unparalleled 100th match at the tournament and turning heads in a brightly coloured, one-legged catsuit.
French Open champion Iga Swiatek, 19, beat Arantxa Rus 6-1, 6-3 to reach the second round and continue her Grand Slam winning streak.
In the men's draw, third seed and US Open champion Dominic Thiem was made to work hard in the first set by Kazakh veteran Mikhail Kukushkin before coming through 7-6 (7/2), 6-2, 6-3.
"He's very experienced and the first set was super-challenging," said Thiem, beaten by Novak Djokovic in five epic sets in the Australian Open final last year.
Sixth seed Alexander Zverev dropped a set and smashed a racquet before grinding to a 6-7 (8/10), 7-6 (7/5), 6-3, 6-2 win against American Marcos Giron.
"He had me on the ropes, particularly in the second set tie-break." The tournament is known as the "Happy Slam" for its relaxed atmosphere but the pandemic has overshadowed the event this year with fewer spectators, mandatory mask-wearing and fans unable to circulate freely around the grounds.
There were no such problems for the 2014 men's champion, Stan Wawrinka, as he reached the second round for a 16th straight time with a 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 win against Portugal's Paulo Sousa.
"It's always amazing and special to come back here. Winning my first Grand Slam was something unbelievable, amazing memories," said the 35-year-old Swiss 17th seed.
Japan's Kei Nishikori also fell at the first hurdle with a straight-sets defeat to Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain.