Melbourne - Title-holder Victoria Azarenka moved into the Australian Open second
round Tuesday but she made a meal of the match and looked far from her
best in blazing conditions on Rod Laver Arena.
The second seed
overcame world number 91 Johanna Larsson 7-6 (7/2), 6-2 but her game was
riddled with unforced errors and poor serving, in contrast to Serena
Williams' clinical first-round win late Monday.
The Belarusian took an hour and 46 minutes to get past the Swede as temperatures soared towards 43 Celsius (109.4 Fahrenheit).
"It was a tough first set. The first match can often be tricky and the weather was not helping," said Azarenka.
"It was important to win that first set and I really found my rhythm in the second set."
Azarenka is searching for her third consecutive Melbourne title, a feat last achieved by Martina Hingis between 1997-1999.
the Open era only five women have managed three in a row -- Margaret
Court, Evonne Goolagong, Steffi Graf, Monica Seles and Hingis.
being a two-time winner, the Belarusian is not favourite at the year's
opening Grand Slam with that honour going to Williams, her conqueror in
this month's Brisbane International final.
Larsson, despite being
the Swedish number one and her country's only singles player present,
had never gone beyond the first round at Melbourne Park in her three
In their only other meeting, the 25-year-old took just four games off Azarenka. But on Tuesday, Larsson caused problems.
went 0-40 up on Azarenka's first service game but failed to ram home
the advantage, with the world number two digging deep to hold and take
The Swede made it 1-1 and with Azarenka struggling with
her serve, hitting three double faults in her first two service games,
Larsson took her chance on her fourth break point when the second seed
hoisted a forehand long.
The defending champion was agitated and
started pumping herself up by shouting "C'mon!" as her trademark
grunting became ever louder, which seemed to do the trick as she broke
back to level the match at 2-2 and then comfortably held.
to serve till 4-4, in games riddled with unforced errors, before Larsson
drew an overhit forehand from Azarenka to break for 5-4.
up, Azarenka broke straight back before a backhand into the net handed
the advantage once again to the Swede at 6-5. Another break in the 12th
levelled it up before the tournament champion eased through the
The fight went out of Larsson and Azarenka quickly
raced to a 3-1 lead in the second. And after a Larsson double fault gave
her a crucial second break for 5-2, she served out for the match.
The win sets her up with a second round clash against either Czech player Barbora Zahlavova Strycova.
Results from the Australian Open on Tuesday:
Lu Yen-hsun (TPE) bt Jimmy Wang (TPE) 6-3, 6-2, 6-1
Michal Przysiezny (POL) bt Horacio Zeballos (ARG) 6-3, 7-6 (7/4), 7-5
Stephane Robert (FRA) bt Aljaz Bedene (SLO) 7-6 (7/3), 6-3, 6-0
Victor Hanescu (ROU) bt Peter Gojowczyk (GER) 7-6 (7/5), 7-6 (7/5), 6-3
Milos Raonic (CAN x11) bt Daniel Gimeno-Traver (ESP) 7-6 (7/2), 6-1, 4-6, 6-2
Martin Klizan (SVK) bt John Isner (USA x13) 6-2, 7-6 (8/6) ret
Grigor Dimitrov (BUL x22) bt Bradley Klahn (USA) 6-7 (7/9), 6-4, 6-4, 6-3
Dusan Lajovic (SRB) bt Lucas Pouille (FRA) 6-4, 7-6 (11/9), 4-6, 6-3
Kei Nishikori (JPN x16) bt Marinko Matosevic (AUS) 6-3, 5-7, 6-2, 4-6, 6-2
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA x10) bt Filippo Volandri (ITA) 7-5, 6-3, 6-3
Roger Federer (SUI x6) bt James Duckworth (AUS) 6-4, 6-4, 6-2
Alize Cornet (FRA x25) bt Polona Hercog (SLO) 1-0 ret
Simona Halep (ROU x11) bt Katarzyna Piter (POL) 6-0, 6-1
Caroline Wozniacki (DEN x10) bt Lourdes Dominguez Lino (ESP) 6-0, 6-2
Carla Suarez Navarro (ESP x16) bt Vania King (USA) 6-3, 6-2
Christina McHale (USA) bt Chan Yung-jan (TPE) 7-5, 6-4
Barbora Zahlavova Strycova (CZE) bt Hsieh Su-wei (TPE) 6-1, 4-6, 6-1
Victoria Azarenka (BLR x2) bt Johanna Larsson (SWE) 7-6 (7/2), 6-2
Galina Voskoboeva (KAZ) bt Irina-Camelia Begu (ROU) 7-5, 4-6, 7-5
Dominika Cibulkova (SVK x20) bt Francesca Schiavone (ITA)
Zarina Diyas (KAZ) bt Katerina Siniakov (CZE) 6-2, 6-4,
Camila Giorgi (ITA) bt Storm Sanders (AUS) 4-6, 6-1, 6-4