Williams comes through testing match

By BBC

Defending women’s champion Serena Williams reached the second round of the Australian Open with a tense 6-4 7-5 win over Italian Camila Giorgi in her first tour match in four months.

The American, 34, had been struggling with a left knee injury in the build-up, but came through unscathed.

Men’s champion Novak Djokovic eased through in straight sets, beating South Korea’s Hyeon Chung 6-3 6-2 6-4.

Roger Federer and Maria Sharapova are also in action in Melbourne on Monday.

Players struggled as temperatures reached 34C but the main talking point was a report by the BBC and BuzzFeed News which said 16 top-50 players over the past decade, including Grand Slam doubles champions, had repeatedly been suspected of match-fixing without facing action.

Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) chief Chris Kermode rejected any suggestion that match-fixing evidence had been covered up or ignored.

“The Tennis Integrity Unit and the tennis authorities absolutely reject any suggestion that evidence of match-fixing has been suppressed for any reason or isn’t being thoroughly investigated,” Kermode told reporters.

“And while the BBC and BuzzFeed reports mainly refer to events from about 10 years ago, we will investigate any new information, and we always do.”

Djokovic delight at dominant display

The world number one is bidding to equal Australian Roy Emerson’s record of six Australian Open crowns.

The Serb, who won three of the four Grand Slams last year, outclassed his teenage opponent, hitting 40 winners to Hyeon’s 16.

“It’s an absolute pleasure to come back to Rod Laver Arena, it’s the most successful court in my career and there have been many memorable moments in the matches I’ve played here,” Djokovic said.

The world number one is bidding to equal Australian Roy Emerson’s record of six Australian Open crowns.

The Serb, who won three of the four Grand Slams last year, outclassed his teenage opponent, hitting 40 winners to Hyeon’s 16.

“It’s an absolute pleasure to come back to Rod Laver Arena, it’s the most successful court in my career and there have been many memorable moments in the matches I’ve played here,” Djokovic said.

Kvitova overcomes nerves to win

Sixth seed Petra Kvitova was the first player to win a match, beating Thailand’s Luksika Kumkhum 6-3 6-1.

The two-time Wimbledon champion, who lost to the Thai in the first round in 2014, was playing her first match of the year after a stomach virus forced her to pull out of two warm-up events.

Elite women players and their injuries and illnesses

Serena Williams (left knee)            Simona Halep (left ankle)

Garbine Muguruza (left foot)        Agnieszka Radwanska (leg injury)

Maria Sharapova (left forearm)   Petra Kvitova (stomach virus)

“Now I can breathe a little bit normally,” said the Czech. “I got really nervous before the match. I didn’t sleep well actually. The memories from two years ago were a little bit difficult.

“I had an interrupted lead-up and lost some weight but I’m feeling much better now.”

Which seeds fell at the first hurdle?

Italy’s Sara Errani, the 17th seed, had injury problems and became the first women’s seed knocked out, losing 1-6 7-5 6-1 to 21-year-old Russian Margarita Gasparyan.

The 24th seed, Sloane Stephens, who beat Serena Williams in the 2013 Australian Open quarter-finals, went out 6-3 6-3 to Chinese qualifier Wang Qiang.

Big-serving Croatian Ivo Karlovic became the first player to retire on court during the tournament, pulling out of his contest with Federico Delbonis on Court 14 in the third setwhile trailing 7-6 (7-4) 6-4 2-1.

Who else made it through?

Czech sixth seed Tomas Berdych and Japan’s seventh seed Kei Nishikori both breezed into the second round with straight-set wins.

Fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland showed no signs of her recent leg injury in overcoming Christina McHale 6-2 6-3.

  

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