National News

Retiring Wozniacki eyes Open fairytale

Former Australian Open champion Caroline Wozniacki has kept the flame flickering on an unlikely second slam to end her career, storming into the second round.

The 29-year-old Dane, who will retire from the sport at the end of the tournament, powered past US world No.92 Kristie Ahn 6-1 6-3 in her Melbourne Park opener.

Wozniacki, unseeded at the Open for the first time since 2008 after slipping to world No.36, was at her consistent best, finishing with only 11 unforced errors to Ahn's 34.

Rain momentarily halted her progression into the last 64 at 4-3 in the second set on Margaret Court Arena.

With the roof closed, Wozniacki held serve easily before breaking the American for a fifth time to close out the match in an hour and 25 minutes.

Wozniacki, who memorably beat Simona Halep in a marathon final in 2018 to break her grand slam hoodoo, said the brief break in play elevated her anxiety as the finish line approached.

"I got a little nervous in the end," she said post-match.

"I just wanted to close it off. Once the roof came on, it felt like I relaxed a little bit.

"I took some time in between points and was able to finish that one off."

Wozniacki will now meet either 23-seeded Ukrainian Dayana Yastremska or Slovenian qualifier Kaja Juvan next up and is not discounting a deep run at her final major.

"I hope so," she said when asked if she had another six wins in her.

"I'm going to do my best to go all the way. For now, it's one down and six to go. I'm ready for it."

Elsewhere, women's seeds mostly shone on a gloomy Monday in Melbourne.

Searching for a long-awaited 24th grand slam title to equal Margaret Court's record, Serena Williams discarded Czech teenager Anastasia Potapova 6-0 6-3 in just 58 minutes.

Naomi Osaka also got her Australian Open defence off to an impressive start with a 6-2 6-4 victory over rising young Czech Marie Bouzkova.

Petra Kvitova, beaten by Osaka in a nail-biting final last year, reduced countrywoman Katerina Siniakova to tears late in the second set, conceding just one game as she won 6-1 6-0.

Fourteenth-seeded US star Sofia Kenin made short work of Italian Martina Trevisan with a 6-2 6-4 victory.

Croatian Petra Martic, seeded one spot higher than Kenin, handed American Christina McHale a 6-3 6-0 beating.

On court 19, 25th-seeded Ekaterina Alexandrova had a tougher time.

The Russian was pushed to a deciding set by Swiss Jil Teichmann but triumphed 6-4 4-6 6-2 before play on outside courts was suspended as a large downpour settled in over Melbourne Park.

American 24th seed Sloane Stephens was up a set a break before crumbling to a 2-6 7-5 6-2 loss to unseeded Zhang Shuai from China.


© AAP 2020