Serena Williams launched her newest bid for a record-equalling twenty fourth Grand Slam with a 56-minute demolition of Laura Siegemund on the Australian Open.
The American, 39, stated it was “classic Serena” as she thrashed the German 6-1 6-1 in entrance of a small, unmasked crowd on Rod Laver Area.
US Open champion Naomi Osaka additionally made a convincing begin with a 6-1 6-2 win over Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
However former champion Angelique Kerber was the primary seed to be knocked out.
The German twenty third seed, who was considered one of 72 gamers to spend 14 days in ‘laborious’ quarantine earlier than the match – confined to a resort room and unable to coach outdoors – was crushed 6-0 6-4 by American Bernarda Pera.
Kerber, a three-time Grand Slam champion, stated the quarantine had affected her kind for the foremost.
“You’re feeling it, particularly should you play an actual match the place it counts and also you play towards an opponent who does not keep within the laborious lockdown,” she stated.
American twenty fourth seed Alison Riske, who additionally did the laborious quarantine, misplaced 6-2 6-1 to Russian world quantity 101 Anastasia Potapova.
French Open champion Iga Swiatek raced into the second spherical with a 6-1 6-3 win over Arantxa Rus of the Netherlands, however US Open quarter-finalist Tsvetana Pironkova of Bulgaria misplaced 7-5 6-2 to Taiwanese Hsieh Su-wei.
Hseih will subsequent play Canada’s Bianca Andreescu, who beat Mihaela Buzarnescu 6-2 4-6 6-3 in her first match for 15 months.
The 2019 US Open champion had not performed for 467 days after combating a knee damage.
“I have been by means of fairly a bit in these 15 months. It wasn’t simple,” she stated.
Second seed Simona Halep raced into the second spherical with a 6-2 6-1 win over Australian wildcard Lizette Cabrera in simply 59 minutes.
Serena channels Flo-Jo in fast win
Williams made a nervy begin towards Siegemund, double-faulting on the primary level of the match earlier than dropping her opening service recreation.
Nevertheless the American, who withdrew from final week’s Yarra Valley Traditional semi-final with a shoulder drawback, didn’t take lengthy to search out her footing.
She hit 16 winners and 4 aces towards 51st-ranked Siegemund, establishing a second-round assembly with Serbia’s Nina Stojanovic.
Williams wore a one-legged, black, pink and crimson catsuit, which she later stated was a tribute to late American monitor and subject icon Florence Griffith-Joyner.
“I used to be impressed by Flo-Jo, who was an exquisite monitor athlete, superb athlete after I was rising up,” Williams stated.
“Watching her trend, simply at all times altering, her outfits have been at all times superb.”
Williams is joined within the second spherical by Osaka and her 40-year-old sister Venus, who beat Belgium’s Kirsten Flipkens 7-5 6-2.
Osaka will play France’s Caroline Garcia subsequent, whereas the elder Williams sister faces veteran Sara Errani.
No line judges at quiet Melbourne Park
There are restricted crowd numbers at this 12 months’s Australian Open, with Victoria’s well being officer giving permission for 25,000-30,000 followers to enter Melbourne Park every day.
The stands appeared sparse, with followers spaced out in keeping with socially distant seating plans.
Melbourne had a 112-day lockdown in October to forestall the unfold of Covid-19, with bars, eating places and outlets step by step reopening since then, and there had been concern amongst locals concerning the dangers of internet hosting an occasion with so many worldwide gamers flying into Australia through the pandemic.
There aren’t any line judges on the Australian Open in an try to hold the match bio-secure, with ball-tracking cameras used as a substitute.
Voices name out selections in real-time, with recordings made by Australia’s well being staff, firefighters and different emergency companies personnel as a tribute to their work.
“I really feel like in the event that they do wish to proceed this manner, I really don’t have any complaints about it as a result of I feel that there is numerous arguments that are not going to occur due to this know-how,” Osaka stated of the choice.