Melbourne - China's Li Na led the march into the Australian Open second round
on Monday but former great Venus Williams and seventh seed Sara Errani
crashed out in the Melbourne heat.
GALLERY: Hotties of the Australian Open
Charismatic fourth seed Li
demolished junior champion Ana Konjuh 6-2, 6-0, handing the 16-year-old a
tennis lesson as she sets about ending her tournament jinx.
has made the final at Melbourne Park twice before, leading both times
before being overcome by Kim Clijsters in 2011 and Victoria Azarenka
last year, and she is determined to go one better this time round.
"I always love coming to Melbourne." she said. "I'm feeling good and feeling healthy."
easy win set up a second-round clash with another qualifier in Swiss
Belinda Bencic, who beat 43-year-old Japanese veteran Kimiko Date-Krumm,
27 years her senior, in three sets.
Li is in line to meet world
number one Serena Williams in the semi-finals, with the five-time
Melbourne champion getting her campaign underway Monday evening against
Australian youngster Ashleigh Barty.
Defending champion Azarenka plays on Tuesday.
through was Germany's ninth seed Angelique Kerber, who had a second-set
wipeout before bouncing back to overcome Australian Jarmila Gajosova
6-3, 0-6, 6-2.
Former world number one Ana Ivanovic and local hope Samantha Stosur also safely booked their second round berths.
But Italy's Errani became the highest seeded casualty when she slumped to Germany's Julia Goerges 6-3, 6-2.
was also curtains for seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams,
who fell in a marathon clash against Russian 22nd seed Ekaterina
Williams was unseeded despite playing 11 events last
year and making three semi-finals, and she looked on course for victory
after winning the first set.
But a series of unforced errors and
failure to convert crucial break points cost her dearly and she was sent
packing 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 after a nearly two-and-half-hour epic.
losing any match is never any fun, especially in a major. So definitely
would have wanted a different result," said Williams.
"I think my
error count was a little high. I haven't looked at the stats yet, so I
don't know what the errors were or the first?serve percentage was. I
have to look at that and just kind of evaluate the match."
hasn't won a Grand Slam since Wimbledon in 2008 and is without a title
since Luxembourg in October 2012, although she made the final of this
month's Auckland International, losing to Ivanovic.
suffers from the energy-sapping Sjogren's Syndrome and she appeared to
wilt in the hot conditions as the match wore on.
some glimpses of the Williams of old in the first set with some sizzling
backhand winners, she blew a chance to go 5-2 up in the second by
failing to convert two break points.
It cost her dearly with
Makarova bouncing back to take the set and ultimately the match to line
up a second round clash with American Irina Falconi, who beat Spain's
Anabel Medina Garrigues.
In contrast, Li was always in charge
against Kunjoh, who was making her Grand Slam debut after winning the
Australian Open girls' title last year.
Li rattled through the
match, giving the teenager a lesson and escaping the court with minimum
effort as temperatures climbed to 30 Celsius (86 Fahrenheit), with
40-plus Celsius forecast on Tuesday.
It was an impressive start
for Li, who reached the season-ending WTA Championships final last year
and started 2014 with victory at the Shenzhen Open.
But she would not have been competing at all if she had gone through with a threat to quit last year.
charismatic Chinese told the Melbourne Age that she almost didn't play
Wimbledon and considered retirement after a second-round defeat at
Roland Garros and a quarter-final loss at Eastbourne, which forced her
to consider retirement.Results from the Australian Open on Monday:
Stanislas Wawrinka (SUI x8) bt Andrey Golubev (KAZ) 6-4, 4-1 ret
Ivan Dodig (CRO x32) bt Ivo Karlovic (CRO) 7-6 (10/8), 6-3, 7-6 (7/4)
Mikhail Youzhny (RUS x14) bt Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) 6-1, 6-4, 6-2
Sam Querrey (USA) bt Santiago Giraldo (COL) 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 (7/3)
Damir Dzumhur (BIH) bt Jan Hajek (CZE) 6-4, 6-2, 6-1
Adrian Mannarino (FRA) bt Steve Johnson (USA) 3-6, 6-3, 6-0, 5-7, 6-4
Kirsten Flipkens (BEL x18) bt Laura Robson (GBR) 6-3, 6-0
Angelique Kerber (GER x9) bt Jarmila Gajdosova (AUS) 6-3, 0-6, 6-2
Belinda Bencic (SUI) bt Kimiko Date-Krumm (JPN) 6-4, 4-6, 6-3
Alla Kudryavtseva (RUS) bt Caroline Garcia (FRA) 6-2, 7-6 (9/7)
Monica Puig (PUR) bt Anna Tatishvili (GEO) 6-2, 6-4
Irina Falconi (USA) bt Anabel Medina Garrigues (ESP) 6-3, 6-1
Karolina Pliskova (CZE) bt Pauline Parmentier (FRA) 6-0, 6-1
Daniela Hantuchova (SVK x31) bt Heather Watson (GBR) 7-5, 3-6, 6-3
Ekaterina Makarova (RUS x22) bt Venus Williams (USA) 2-6, 6-4, 6-4
Casey Dellacqua (AUS) bt Vera Zvonareva (RUS) 6-2, 6-2
Li Na (CHN x4) bt Ana Konjuh (CRO) 6-2, 6-0