Australian Open: Serena Williams, Ashleigh Barty, Naomi Osaka into second round

Ashleigh Barty
Ashleigh Barty won her maiden Grand Slam at the French Open in 2019
2020 Australian Open
Venue: Melbourne Park Dates: 20 January to 2 February
Coverage: Listen on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra and online; Live text on selected matches on the BBC Sport website and app.

Serena Williams underlined why she is the Australian Open favourite with a rapid first-round win, while world number one Ashleigh Barty overcame a scare to reach the second round.

Williams, chasing a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title, beat Anastasia Potapova 6-0 6-3 in just 58 minutes.

Australia's Barty recovered from a poor start against world number 120 Lesia Tsurenko to win 5-7 6-1 6-1.

Defending champion Naomi Osaka also advanced on the opening day.

Third seed Osaka started slowly against Marie Bouzkova, before winning 6-2 6-4.

While Williams claimed a convincing victory over her Russian opponent, there was an even faster win for seventh seed Petra Kvitova, the 2019 runner-up, demolished fellow Czech Katerina Siniakova 6-1 6-0 in 51 minutes.

Former champion Caroline Wozniacki got her final tournament before retirement off to a good start with a 6-1 6-3 victory over American Kristie Ahn.

However, 2017 US Open champion and 24th seed Sloane Stephens was beaten by China's Zhang Shuai.

The American served for the match in the second set but then lost seven games in a row as she fell to a 2-6 7-5 6-2 defeat.

Britain's Johanna Konta was due to play on the first day but her match was one of 32 rescheduled for Tuesday because of rain.

'It's all good' for Barty after shaky start

Rain
Heavy rain meant outdoor matches were cancelled and the water leaked on to the covered Rod Laver Arena

Top seed Barty won the Adelaide International on Sunday but struggled for rhythm in a patchy match.

Ukrainian Tsurenko, who reached the 2018 US Open quarter-finals, was playing just her second match after injuring her elbow but initially held firm against an error-strewn Barty.

Barty was broken in the opening game of the match, silencing the packed Rod Laver Arena, and Tsurenko ultimately served out the set after Barty sent an easy forehand long.

The Australian made 19 unforced errors in the opening set but was able to take advantage of a fading Tsurenko, whose served crumbled as the match progressed.

The 23-year-old won 14 of the final 16 games to close out the match and will play either Polona Hercog or Rebecca Peterson next.

Barty, who claimed her first Grand Slam singles title in Paris last year, said: "It's all good. This is the moment I've been looking forward to the most throughout the off season."

Williams puts aside air concerns to advance

Serena Williams
Serena Williams took less than an hour to win her first-round match

The tournament started as scheduled on Monday after air quality improved in Melbourne, although matches were later postponed because of heavy rain.

Last week's qualifying event had been disrupted by delays because of the air pollution caused by widespread bushfires.

Williams, who had a pulmonary embolism after giving birth in 2017, said she had been concerned about what conditions might be like during her match.

"That is still a concern for pretty much everyone. Every day all the players and the tournament make sure that all the players are updated on what the play conditions would be like," said the American.

"It's literally every day, we are just waiting every day to see how the air quality would be. Today, it seemed normal. Yeah, it seemed pretty good."

Eighth seed Williams, who won her first WTA title in three years in the run-up to the opening Grand Slam of the year, will play Slovenia's Tamara Zidansek next.

The 38-year-old was made to work harder in the second set by 18-year-old Potapova, who broke in the third game of the second set after a double-fault by Williams.

But Williams immediately broke back and pulled away to victory.

'I didn't do anything to you' - Osaka on social media exchange

Osaka, who broke the net with one of her serves against Czech Bouzkova, will play China's Zheng Saisai in the second round.

While the Japanese 22-year-old was happy to get through to the next round, she was less impressed with one comment she had read on social media - and decided to reply.

One user had posted "Boooooooo - Don't want her to win - Hate her interviews - Not Cute - Annoying" on the event's official Twitter page, with Osaka later replying: "Are you big mad or little mad?" She later told reporters she could not understand why someone would jeer her like that.

"She was hating. What would her children think? You're just going to come on the internet and boo me for no reason? I didn't do anything to you," Osaka said.

"She was very upset. I also wonder, people like this, if they see you in person, I wonder what they would do?"

Net being repaired
Play was held up for a few minutes at the start of the second set when the net needed some repairs after one of Naomi Osaka's deliveries

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