Written by Reuters
15 Jan, 2019 | 12:47 pm
Reuters – Serena Williams made a ruthless start to her quest for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam singles title with a 6-0 6-2 victory over unseeded German Tatjana Maria in the first round of the Australian Open on Tuesday (January 15).
The seven-times Australian Open champion was pregnant when she won the last of her 23 grand slam titles at Melbourne Park and showed she has lost none of her brutal power and athleticism in the match between the two mothers at Rod Laver Arena.
The 37-year-old Williams, playing her first Grand Slam since her rant against the umpire at last year’s U.S. Open final, lost only 24 points against Maria. Williams finished the match in just 49 minutes on her second match point when Maria, who is also her neighbour, sent a backhand wide and the American will next play Canadian Eugenie Bouchard.
Elsewhere, former world number one Garbine Muguruza defeated China’s Zheng Saisai 6-2 6-3 in 75 minutes. Muguruza, who has slipped to number 18 in the rankings after an inconsistent 2018, meets Johanna Konta in the second round after the Briton overcame local hope Ajla Tomljanovic 7-6(4) 2-6 7-6(7).
In the men’s draw, Kamil Majchrzak had eighth seed Kei Nishikori on the ropes with a two-set lead before severe cramps in his left quadricep and right hand forced him to eventually retire from the contest.
With Majchrzak’s movement restricted, Nishikori leveled the match at two sets each and went ahead in the decider before the Polish qualifier retired with the score at 6-3 7-6(6) 0-6 2-6 0-3. Meanwhile, Germany’s Alexander Zverev overpowered Aljaz Bedene to win their first round match at the Australian Open 6-4 6-1 6-4 as the 21-year-old firms as a title contender.
The big-hitting fourth seed went down a break midway through the first set, which seemed to prod him into action. He won the next eight games, and Bedene never recovered. Zverev will play the winner of an all-French first-round match between Jeremy Chardy and Ugo Humbert.
Zverev, known as Sascha, has emerged as the leader of tennis’ new generation of men’s players, a reputation confirmed late last year by his maiden ATP Finals triumph where he beat Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic in consecutive days.
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