MELBOURNE — Serena Williams took the first step on what she hopes will be the path to a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title in some style on Monday with a 6-1 6-1 thrashing of Germany’s Laura Siegemund at the Australian Open.
The 39-year-old American, who had never failed to get through the first round in 19 previous visits to Melbourne Park, made a faltering start with a double fault on the first point and gave up her serve in the first game.
Williams lost just one more game over the one-hour contest, however, overpowering her hapless opponent with thumping serves and howitzer forehands in front of a small but enthusiastic crowd of unmasked fans on Rod Laver Arena.
Next up for the seven-times Australian Open champion in her quest to match Australian Margaret Court’s record tally of Grand Slam titles is a second round tie against Serbian Nina Stojanović.
Naomi Osaka made a stunning start in the Australian Open on Monday by demolishing triple quarter-finalist Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (6-1, 6-2) to reach the second round.
Russian veteran Pavlyuchenkova was seen as a potential banana skin for Osaka, but was reduced to roadkill as the Japanese third seed steamrolled her in the opening match at Rod Laver Arena.
Osaka pulled out of the semi-final of the Gippsland Trophy with a shoulder niggle, but betrayed no sign of injury to the smattering of spectators in the centre court terraces.
Osaka next faces the winner of Caroline Garcia and Polona Hercog for a place in the third round. — Reuters