WTA Insider Courtney Nguyen | The second Insider Notebook of this year's Australian Open takes in Lucie Safarova's marathon, Serena Williams' winning tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr. and the weird world of Naomi Osaka.
WTA Staff

MELBOURNE, Australia - Notes from around the grounds on Day 2 of the Australian Open, where Serena Williams moved into round two without fault and Lucie Safarova came back from the brink to advance.

Lucie Safarova saves NINE MATCH POINTS to beat Yanina Wickmayer.

Three years ago, Safarova held a match point on Li Na and lost. On Tuesday, Safarova pulled a true Houdini act, surviving nine match points against Wickmayer to win, 3-6, 7-6(7), 6-1, and earn the right to play Serena in the second round. It's the most match points anyone has saved en route to a win at a Slam since Nick Kyrgios saved the same number to beat Richard Gasquet at Wimbledon in 2014.

Wickmayer blamed her tentative play on her match points, but full credit to Safarova for coming up with the goods. The Czech saved three with aces, one with an unreturnable serve, and two with clean forehand winners.

Serena's winning tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr.

Serena had no problems with Belinda Bencic, beating the 19-year-old, 6-3, 6-4, in the first round. It may have been Tuesday in Melbourne but with America still celebrating Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on Monday, Serena wore a Nike t-shirt with the word "Equality" emblazoned across the chest during her press conference.

"With today being Martin Luther King Day, it's important to spread the message of equality, which is something he talked about a lot and he tried to spread a lot, is equality and rights for everyone," Serena said.

"I think it's a concern for just everyone in general. We want to make sure we always continue to move forward and always have the opportunity to have equal rights for all. We don't want to stop that forward movement. It's just always great to raise awareness for it."

Keep Naomi Weird.

Naomi Osaka may just be the most unique personality on tour. The 19-year-old's powerful game and quirky personality is a crowd pleaser, and she did not disappoint in her opening round. Osaka came through a tough three-set win over Luksika Kumkhum, 6-7(2), 6-4, 7-5. After the match, Osaka admitted she still wasn't hitting her backhand clean due to her left wrist injury.

"I was a bit tentative today about it, but it's fine," she said. Osaka takes on No.9 seed Johanna Konta next.

Then there was this....

Quote of the Day: "I feel like I'm weird and they are completely normal, which is not a good sign."

Here's an amusing exchange about her recent interactions on Twitter with Belinda Bencic and Ana Konjuh, which all started after Osaka tweeted Konjuh about her perfectly groomed eyebrows:

NAOMI OSAKA: I was just really curious, because you have seen them, right? Come on. It's like eyes and then eyebrows. Then when I talk to her, I can't stop staring at it.

And I haven't talked to her in real life a lot before that, so I just wanted, like, an ice breaker, you know.

I talked to her just now, and I think that really creeped her out, because I started talking about the eyebrows again. But it's okay, I think.

Q. So do you guys talk a lot, like, now you feel a little freer talking to both of them in the locker room nowadays?
NAOMI OSAKA: Yeah, but I feel like I'm very weird and they are completely normal, which is not a good sign.

Q. Why isn't that a good sign? What's wrong with being weird?
NAOMI OSAKA: Because I might creep them out. Like, I might accidentally say something. They're like, Whoa, where did that come from?

Sam Stosur on a slide.

With her 6-3, 3-6, 6-0 loss to Heather Watson, Sam Stosur has now lost her last nine matches. Her last win came in the first round of the US Open.

Karolina Pliskova giving them something to talk about.

The No.5 seed cruised to a 6-2, 6-0 win over Sara Sorribes Tormo to advance to the second round, where she'll play Russian qualifier Anna Blinkova. The Brisbane International champion says she feels 100 times better at the Australian Open after finally making the second week at a Slam in New York.

"I think this is already gone, like the scariness of the second week," Pliskova said. "[Having] to pass the third round. Even if I don't now, I know I have been there, so it's really different this time. Doesn't mean that I'm going to be there for sure now every Grand Slam in the second week. It can happen that I still lose, but definitely I feel better with this pressure what I had before."

Pliskova is aware of the significant chatter surrounding her as a tournament favorite in Melbourne, but she insists none of it matters.

"I heard few stuff, but I'm not thinking about this. I just don't want to get it into my head. I just want to continue in those things what I was doing the second half of the year last year and even in Brisbane.

"I don't feel like I would be favorite in this tournament or any Grand Slam so far. Like I said, I think there are still better players than me.

"Me, I don't want to put the pressure on myself. That's the main thing for me. If I'm putting the pressure on myself, it's worse than if others [are] putting. I take it as a positive thing that they just want me to win a Grand Slam or they just think I have a good chance, which is always good that they talk like this.

"Worse would be, I would say, that if they would not talk like this!"

Mirjana Lucic-Baroni ends her Melbourne drought.

The last time the 34-year-old won a match at Melbourne Park, Titanic won Best Picture at the Academy Awards. Lucic-Baroni finally ended her hex on Tuesday night, earning a hard-fought win over Chinese qualifier Wang Qiang, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4. She'll play Agnieszka Radwanska in the second round.

Radwanska pulls off the 'tweener'.

Things got a little complicated for Radwanska in her first round, needing three sets to beat Tsvetana Pironkova, 6-1, 4-6, 6-1, to set up her meeting with Lucic-Baroni. But we did get a cool 'tweener' highlight out of it:

"You want to win the point, it doesn't matter how," Radwanska said in her post-midnight press conference. "There are also some points that you don't have a choice. You are so late, so either you play from the front up (over the shoulder lob) - but then the ball is just going very high to the other side - or you go between your legs, then it's going pretty fast. In that case was no choice. I just wanted to win the point. I just thought that's the best solution."

Konjuh full of confidence.

The 18-year-old got through a tough first round draw, beating Kristina Mladenovic, 6-4, 6-2. "When I saw the draw I wasn't too excited," Konjuh told WTA Insider. "I could have a much easier player. It was a pretty good match. I think she was just a little bit more nervous than me."

I asked Konjuh why she thought the more experienced Mladenovic was the more nervous of the two on court.

"I put myself in her shoes and I wouldn't like to play myself in the first round also." Sounds like Konjuh is full of confidence after a strong run to the final of the ASB Classic. She plays Daria Gavrilova in the second round.

Andrea Petkovic

Andrea Petkovic: Talent Scout.

Petkovic handled 17-year-old wildcard Kayla Day, 6-3, 6-2, to advance to the second round. The German was impressed by what she saw from the young American.

"I think she's going to be really good, to be honest," Petkovic said. "I think she's going to be a tremendous talent. I told you guys in Carlsbad when I played Sloane and I beat her easily as well. But I have the same feeling with Kayla because her ball is so heavy. I had the same feeling with Sloane back then, you feel it in the racquet when the ball really has something behind it."

Petkovic's win sets up an enticing second-round match against 16th seed Barbora Strycova.

Caroline Garcia resets for 2017.

Playing in her first match of the season, the French No.1 got a good win over Kateryna Bondarenko in straight sets and will play her countrywoman Océane Dodin in the second round. Garcia pulled out of her lead-up events before the Australian Open because she needed more time to recover from a physically and emotionally grueling 2016 season.

"I had a long season last year with a lot of tournament and I finished late with Fed Cup and Limoges," Garcia told WTA Insider. "I needed time to get everything recovered, my mental for sure and my body took a lot of things during the season. We started the preparation later than expected. We wanted to be patient."

Garcia also debuted her new partnership with Yonex, having switched from Babolat in the off-season. Garcia said she began testing racquets from different manufacturers after the US Open before settling on Yonex.

"We were trying to find a racquet with a little bit more control and more feeling with the ball but still a lot of power, because that's my game. I was feeling very comfortable with the racquet so I tried it again in the off-season. I like it.

"I feel like I can change direction a little bit easier and when I'm confident and just go through the ball I don't feel any loss of power and I'm a little bit more accurate."

Day 3 Matches To Watch.

Angelique Kerber, Garbiñe Muguruza, and Venus Williams headline Rod Laver Arena on Wednesday. Doubles also gets underway with some enticing encounters.

Here are six more matches we'll be sure to tune in for:

Shelby Rogers vs. Ashleigh Barty (NB 7pm, Margaret Court Arena)
Jelena Jankovic vs. Julia Goerges (2nd match, Hisense Arena)
Peng Shuai vs. Eugenie Bouchard (3rd match, Hisense Arena)
Alison Riske vs. Zhang Shuai (1st match, Court 3)
Serena Williams/Venus Williams vs. Timea Babos/Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (3rd match, Court 2)
Caroline Garcia/Kristina Mladenovic vs. Belinda Bencic/Ana Konjuh (3rd match, Court 12)