Serena Wins Opener, Azarenka Too
Published January 15, 2013 12:00
MELBOURNE, Australia - The four Top 8 seeds on the top half were all in action early on Day 2 of the Australian Open, and unlike Day 1, it wasn't plain sailing for all of them - or for any of them, really.
In fact the first one in action didn't even make it through, as No.7 seed Sara Errani's follow-up to her breakthrough 2012 got off to a rocky start, breaking in the first game but eventually losing a 64 64 grinder to Carla Suárez Navarro. Suárez Navarro is no stranger to the upset, as this was her fifth Top 10 win, and second at a Grand Slam - she beat Venus Williams in the second round here back in 2009.
Victoria Azarenka and Serena Williams both took the court a little later, and while Williams managed to get through opener against Edina Gallovits-Hall, 60 60, it wasn't without its problems - the No.3 seed rolled her right ankle up 4-0 in the first set, a hitch that she hopes won't hinder her shot at the title.
"I haven't had enough time to assess it yet," Williams said afterwards. "I saw the doctor again - we're just going to see how it is in a few hours from now. But I'll be out there on Thursday - I mean, unless something fatal happens to me - there's no way I'm not going to be out there competing.
"I'm alive. My heart's beating. I'll be fine."
So how did she still win the match so handily? "I don't know - at that point I think I really started to focus. I just thought, 'Just relax.' I had nothing to lose at that point, so I started swinging freely.
"I've been injured before. I've played this tournament with so many injuries and was able to come out on top. So for me, it's just another page, and a great story to tell the grandkids one day."
The No.1-seeded Azarenka had some tricky moments in her match against Monica Niculescu, the crafty Romanian carving out a 3-0 second set lead with points for 4-0 - but with Azarenka serving 0-3, 15-40, the match turned on a dime, and the World No.1 reeled off six games in a row to win, 61 64.
"Her game is definitely unusual, but I've known her since we played Under 14s, and she actually played a lot more spin back then - it was all slice from both sides before," Azarenka said. "She's unusual and tries to make you feel a little bit miserable on the court, like you don't know what to do, because every ball comes from different angles. So it's important to just keep your focus and execute your shots."
Williams and Azarenka, along with Maria Sharapova, all have a chance at leaving Australia with the No.1 ranking. By virtue of Williams' first round win, both Azarenka and Sharapova need to at least reach the final to have a shot at the No.1 ranking. Williams can secure the No.1 ranking by reaching the final.
The other Top 8 seed in action, No.8 seed Petra Kvitova, overcame a second set blip and got past Francesca Schiavone in three sets, 64 26 62. Schiavone actually had the better numbers in the match, with a -2 winners-to-errors differential (21 to 23); Kvitova was -14 on winners to errors (28 to 42).