Caroline Wozniacki prolonged her career by at least another match after rallying past 23rd seed Dayana Yastremska 7-5 7-5 in the second round on Wednesday.  

Wozniacki will retire after the Australian Open and the 2018 champion faced the prospect of going out against the red-hot Yastremska, who raced out to a 5-1 lead in the opening set.

Yastremska was in control before former world number one Wozniacki reeled off six successive games to steal the set on Margaret Court Arena.

Wozniacki was also down a double break and 3-0 at the start of the second set before weathering another storm at Melbourne Park.

Having lost momentum, Yastremska called for a medical timeout and it seemed to help as the Ukrainian saved three match points to hold for 5-5.

But 29-year-old Danish star Wozniacki was not to be denied, ensuring her farewell party carried through to the third round after more than two hours on court.

Defending champion Naomi Osaka sailed into the third round of the Australian Open with a straight-sets win over Saisai Zheng. 

In warm but breezy conditions in Melbourne, third seed Osaka defeated China's Zheng 6-2 6-4 on Margaret Court Arena on Wednesday.

Japanese star Osaka will next face either teenage sensation Coco Gauff or Sorana Cirstea at Melbourne Park.

Osaka made a strong start in front of a healthy Japanese contingent, breaking in the second game for a 2-0 lead, only to be broken back immediately after firing a forehand long.

Zheng managed to get back on serve, however, consecutive double faults handed the break back to Osaka, whose power and precision helped wrap up the set in 34 minutes.

Osaka fended off two break points in the opening game of the second set, but Zheng continued to have her chances on the two-time grand slam champion's serve.

Zheng, who also saved a break point to hold for 1-1, finally broke at the fifth time of asking as she moved ahead 2-1.

The disciplined approach from Zheng frustrated Osaka, who threw and kicked her racquet before claiming the break back instantly. The pair traded breaks as Osaka's unforced errors grew, until the latter composed herself to see out the match after one hour, 20 minutes.

 

STATISTICAL BREAKDOWN
Naomi Osaka [3] bt Saisai Zheng 6-2 6-4

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Osaka – 20/30
Zheng – 7/20

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Osaka – 0/2
Zheng – 0/3

BREAK POINTS WON
Osaka – 6/12
Zheng – 3/7

FIRST SERVE PERCENTAGE
Osaka – 59
Zheng – 68

PERCENTAGE OF POINTS WON ON FIRST/SECOND SERVE
Osaka – 63/50
Zheng – 50/29

TOTAL POINTS
Osaka – 61
Zheng – 46

Simona Halep and Karolina Pliskova came through their first-round matches at the Australian Open, as Maria Sharapova suffered an early exit in the women's singles.

Fourth seed Halep was handed a testing opener against Jennifer Brady, who had beaten Ash Barty at the Brisbane International this month.

But the Romanian prevailed 7-6 (7-5) 6-1 in one hour and 36 minutes to join home hope Barty, defending champion Naomi Osaka and tournament favourite Serena Williams in round two.

An up-and-down first set was crucial, as Halep twice recovered from a break down and saved three set points while Brady was serving at 6-5.

Halep found a way to force a tie-break and then edged it 7-5 before running away with the contest in the second set.

Wimbledon champion Halep also had to overcome a first-set fall that required the trainer to check on her wrist and joked she had also stumbled in her first match of the 2018 tournament, when she made it all the way to the final.

"In 2018 it was the same, probably I can repeat that!" said Halep.

"I don't know why in the first round always I fall down. Maybe it's a good sign but it's too far to think about that.

"My wrist is pretty painful. I need to chill and recover for the second round."

Second seed Pliskova earned a 6-1 7-5 victory over Kristina Mladenovic, losing serve just once in the 87-minute battle. The Czech faces Laura Siegemund next, while Halep will take on Harriet Dart.


TOP 10 ALL THROUGH AS SHARAPOVA'S WOES CONTINUE

Sharapova suffered her third consecutive loss in the first round of a grand slam following a 6-3 6-4 defeat against 19th seed Donna Vekic as the former world number one hit 31 unforced errors.

A first-round casualty at Wimbledon and the US Open, Sharapova - who has been struggling for form and fitness - crashed out in the first round of the Australian Open for the first time since 2010.

Sixth seed Belinda Bencic won 6-3 7-5 against Anna Karolina Schmiedlova, while Madison Keys was a 6-3 6-1 victor against Daria Kasatkina, as all of the top 10 seeds moved safely into round two.

Elina Svitolina claimed a 6-4 7-5 victory in her match against Katie Boulter, while former grand slam champions Angelique Kerber and Garbine Muguruza were winners against Elisabetta Cocciaretto and Shelby Rogers respectively. Muguruza won by an unusual 0-6 6-1 6-0 scoreline.


KONTA AND VONDROUSOVA BOW OUT

Johanna Konta, Marketa Vondrousova, Amanda Anisimova and Anastasija Sevastova were the seeds to fall on day two.

An Australian Open semi-finalist in 2016, British 12th seed Konta suffered a 6-4 6-2 loss to Ons Jabeur.

On the comeback trail following a tendinitis-related problem in her right knee, which forced her to withdraw from Brisbane and Adelaide, Konta was only making her second appearance since losing in the US Open quarter-finals last year.

Konta said: "Ultimately the main thing was to start playing again, and I am. How I physically felt out there is obviously a massive tick for me compared to where I was in September. Before Brisbane I had been out for almost four-and-a-half months."

Czech Vondrousova, the 15th seed and French Open finalist last year, lost in three sets to Russian veteran Svetlana Kuznetsova.

Another rising star fell as 18-year-old American Anisimova lost out in a final set to Zarina Diyas, while home hope Ajla Tomljanovic emphatically accounted for Sevastova with a 6-1 6-1 triumph to book a round-two meeting with Muguruza.

Has the Australian Open seen the last of Maria Sharapova? The 2008 champion is not sure following her first-round exit on Tuesday. 

Sharapova crashed out in the opening round of the Australian Open for the first time since 2010 after going down 6-3 6-4 to 19th seed Donna Vekic in Melbourne.

A five-time grand slam champion, Sharapova has struggled for form and fitness following just 15 appearances in 2019 as her stunning fall from grace since a 15-month drugs ban - which expired in 2017 - continued.

Former world number one Sharapova suffered her third consecutive loss in the opening round of a slam after early exits at Wimbledon and the US Open.

Asked whether the prospect of not returning to the Australian Open has crossed her mind, Sharapova told reporters: "I don't know. I don't know. I was fortunate to get myself to be here and thankful to [Tennis Australia CEO] Craig [Tiley] and the team allowing me to be part of this event. It's tough for me to tell what's going to happen in 12 months' time."

Sharapova's season was interrupted by injuries last year, with the 32-year-old Russian star posting an 8-7 win-loss record.

Question marks over Sharapova's future are set to intensify as the world number 145 – who received a wildcard for this year's event – is projected to drop outside of the WTA's top 350.

"I would like to," Sharapova said when asked if her body is capable of holding up to feature in more tournaments. "I don't know. I don't have a crystal ball to tell you if I can or if I will, but I would love to, yeah."

Sharapova added: "It's tough to say I'm on the right track right now 45 minutes after the match. But, I mean, there is no way to get out of it except to keep believing in yourself, because if you do do all the right things and you don't believe in yourself, then that's probably a bad formula."

Maria Sharapova is in the midst of the worst grand slam losing streak of her illustrious career after the former world number one crashed out at the Australian Open. 

Sharapova suffered her third consecutive loss in the opening round of a slam following Tuesday's 6-3 6-4 defeat to 19th seed Donna Vekic in Melbourne, where she committed 31 unforced errors.

A first-round casualty at Wimbledon and the US Open last year, five-time major champion Sharapova was ousted in one hour, 21 minutes in sunny conditions on Rod Laver Arena.

It is the first time in a decade that Russian star and 2008 winner Sharapova has fallen at the first hurdle of the Australian Open.

Sharapova – who last won a slam via the 2014 French Open – lost to countrywoman Maria Kirilenko in three sets in 2010.

The 32-year-old has been struggling for form and fitness after a first-round exit prior to the Australian Open in Brisbane.

Sharapova only played 15 matches last season due to injuries, finishing with an 8-7 record as her stunning fall from grace since a 15-month drugs ban, which expired in 2017, continued.

Serena Williams and her quest to equal the grand slam record for most women's singles titles continues against Tamara Zidansek at the Australian Open on Wednesday.

American superstar Williams has been stuck on 23 major championships since winning the Australian Open in 2017, trailing Margaret Court's tally of 24.

Williams has reached four slam finals since, however, the 38-year-old has finished runner-up on every occasion.

We take a closer look at where Williams is at as she prepares for her second-round encounter at Melbourne Park.

 

Form and results

Riding a drought-ending triumph at the Auckland Open, Williams started her quest for an eighth Australian Open title with a routine victory over teenager Anastasia Potapova on Monday. Williams needed just 58 minutes to wrap up proceedings on Rod Laver Arena – her 350th grand slam match victory.

R1: bt Potapova 6-0 6-3

Next up

Zidansek stands in the way of Williams and a third-round berth. The 22-year-old Slovenian was too good for wildcard Han Na-lae 6-3 6-3 in the opening round. A runner-up in her only WTA Tour final in May 2019, Zidansek also reached the second round in Melbourne last year, before falling to eventual champion Naomi Osaka.

Draw

If Williams beats Zidansek, Fiona Ferro, Wang Qiang or Pauline Parmentier await, while a showdown with good friend Caroline Wozniacki could await in the fourth round. Former world number one and 2018 Australian Open champion Wozniacki is retiring at the end of this tournament.

What she said

"I think, so to say, monkey off my back, kind of. It was very important for me to get a win in the final [Auckland Open]. It felt like a relief. Like I could move forward now."

Johanna Konta's recent Australian Open struggles continued with a surprise first-round exit in Melbourne on Tuesday.

The world number 13 was well beaten 6-4 6-2 by Ons Jabeur, marking the third straight year in which she has fallen in the second round or sooner at the opening grand slam of the season.

Konta was left to lament 19 unforced errors, while Jabeur mixed 19 winners with 12 unforced errors in a 63-minute loss.

A semi-finalist in Melbourne in 2016 and quarter-finalist the following year, Konta has followed that up with two second-round exits and Tuesday's loss.

The Brit's exit is favourable for Dayana Yastremska and Caroline Wozniacki, with the winner of their second-round meeting to face Jabeur, Madison Brengle or Caroline Garcia.

World number one Ash Barty was relieved to come through the "chaos" of a first day of few shocks at the Australian Open.

Home favourite and top seed Barty had to come from a set down to progress in Melbourne, beating Lesia Tsurenko 5-7 6-1 6-1.

The Queenslander ensured she joined several other big names in advancing, with defending champion Naomi Osaka triumphing along with Serena Williams and Petra Kvitova - straight-sets winners over Anastasia Potapova and Katerina Siniakova respectively.

Venus Williams did not follow her sister into round two, though, as she fell to 15-year-old Coco Gauff once again.

Gauff had already beaten fellow American Williams at Wimbledon last year and pulled off a repeat on Monday.

Sloane Stephens crashed out 2-6 7-5 6-2 to Zhang Shuai, while Barbora Strycova lost to Sorana Cirstea in straight sets, but fellow seeds Petra Martic, Sofia Kenin and Ekaterina Alexandrova all advanced.

Caroline Wozniacki, who will retire at the end of the tournament, prolonged her career by easing past Kristie Ahn 6-1 6-3.


BARTY GETTING BETTER AT EACH SLAM

Barty won the French Open last season and feels she is improving with the experience of every major.

"It's always a little bit different, I think," she said. "Slams always feel like there's a lot of chaos going because there's so many people.

"It's busy with singles and doubles players, mixed players, families, coaches, everyone underneath. It's just chaos.

"When you're able to separate that from when you step on the court is when you can do a little bit better, play a little bit better, feel a little bit more comfortable.

"I feel like we've been able to do that better and better with each slam that I've played. It's an experience thing. You have to learn how to deal with it, but it's getting better."

Reflecting on her role as a home favourite and the top seed, Barty added: "I feel like I'm doing it the best way that I know how. I'm doing it with my team. We're doing it as a team.

"We're loving it. We're embracing it. There's no other way to approach it. I think we're just going along for the ride, trying to play some good tennis."


VENUS: THE SKY'S THE LIMIT FOR COCO

Seven-time grand slam winner Venus Williams knows a thing or two about champions, and she expects new nemesis Gauff to go all the way to the top.

Asked if the teenager has a "champion's mentality", Williams replied: "She clearly wants it, works very hard, is extremely mature for her age. I think the sky's the limit for her."

The veteran was impressed by Gauff's mentality, adding: "She just played very focused and put a lot of balls in the court. That's what you have to do.

"She'll play well for the rest of the event."


WOZNIACKI 'TRYING TO ENJOY THE MOMENT'

Knowing her career is coming to an end, Wozniacki acknowledged she found it difficult to keep her emotions in check.

But the 2018 champion is determined to enjoy her final days at the top of the sport.

"I feel good, having won my first match here. It's always tricky, especially knowing it's my last tournament," she said. "There's a lot of just emotions, but I tried to keep them in check, and I thought I did that very well today.

"I think I'm just really trying to enjoy every moment. I don't know that there is one particular moment, but there is once in a while where you're like, 'Wow, this really is my last one'.

"You never know, it [could be] still two weeks from now. But every match you go out there, I'm just going to give it everything that I have, because it could be the last."

Venus Williams said she would love to play doubles with sister Serena at the Olympic Games in Tokyo this year after Monday's Australian Open first-round exit.  

It was a case of deja vu for Venus, who went down 7-6 (7-5) 6-3 to 15-year-old Coco Gauff in a rematch of 2019's memorable Wimbledon clash.

Venus was stunned by the American teenager at the All England Club last year and the 39-year-old former world number one suffered the same fate in Melbourne.

Her attention, however, turned to the Olympics after a straight-sets loss on Margaret Court Arena.

"In a perfect world, I would play every time. I love it," seven-time grand slam singles champion Venus said in her news conference.

Asked specifically about teaming up with 23-time major winner Serena Williams and whether she has discussed the prospect with her sibling, Venus replied: "I mean, in the perfect world, we'll be there.

"If I'm blessed enough to play again, that would be an amazing opportunity."

Venus has won four Olympic gold medals, one in singles at Sydney 2000 and three in partnership with Serena, while she also boasts 14 women's doubles titles in slams. 

"[I've] had a lot of success in doubles," she added. "That's been a real highlight in my career."

Teenage American Coco Gauff is on a "mission to be the greatest" after vanquishing Venus Williams in their highly anticipated rematch at the Australian Open.   

Gauff announced herself on the international stage by stunning Williams at Wimbledon last year and the 15-year-old repeated the feat in straight sets in Melbourne on Monday.

Making her Australian Open main draw debut, Gauff defeated 39-year-old former world number one Williams 7-6 (7-5) 6-3.

"My mission is to be the greatest. That's my goal, to win as many grand slams as possible," Gauff told reporters after Williams said "the sky is the limit" for her countrywoman.

"But for today, my mission was to win. I didn't want to let the nerves come to me. I know I had a couple of set points, and she played well. I knew I had to take it from her. She wasn't going to give it to me. That was really the mission.

"I think today has been the best match so far I played this year. I was a lot more focused. I think today really showed what I worked on in my off-season."

Asked if she believes she can win the event, Gauff replied: "If I go into a tournament thinking I'll lose, then I'm going to lose.

"To answer that, I respect everyone's game and I respect my opponent, but at the end of the day if I'm going to go against them, I can't say, 'Oh, I'm going to lose this match'. That's not the right mentality to have. I believe I can beat anyone. If it happens, I don't know. But I think that's almost every player's mentality. 

"The ones who are the great ones, they don't really fear anyone. You respect your opponent, but you can't go into the match fearing someone, because then you're going to lose, and I don't want to lose."

Gauff added: "I feel like my mindset has changed since the US Open. [At the] US Open I felt like I was on edge every match just because everyone was talking about the US Open before Wimbledon even ended.

"I guess I came to the realisation that I need to play my game, not worry about what people think of me. At the end of the day, I did have three good matches, both US Open and Wimbledon. I still have a lot more to become like one of those big names."

Coco Gauff showed the future is now after vanquishing Venus Williams in straight sets in the first round of the Australian Open.   

American teenager Gauff defied her age yet again, the 15-year-old defeating veteran Williams 7-6 (7-5) 6-3 in her Australian Open main-draw debut at a wet Melbourne Park on Monday.

Gauff produced one of 2019's most remarkable results when she beat five-time Wimbledon champion and countrywoman Williams in the first round at the All England Club.

And Gauff repeated the feat again as she eliminated the 39-year-old former world number one – who withdrew from the Adelaide International through injury – after one hour, 37 minutes on Margaret Court Arena.

The first-round match was a standout contest after Gauff announced herself at Wimbledon last year.

Gauff raced out to a 2-0 lead against seven-time grand slam champion Williams, who fought back and saved three set points to claim the break back and pull level at 5-5.

Williams battled well to force a tie-break, but Gauff finally closed out the set after the two-time Australian Open runner-up fired a backhand volley into the net.

The 35-minute second set was more straightforward for Gauff, who fired 10 winners to book her spot in the next round against Sorana Cirstea.

 

STATISTICAL BREAKDOWN
Coco Gauff bt Venus Williams 7-6 (7-5) 6-3

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Gauff – 17/30
Williams – 25/41

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Gauff – 2/4
Williams – 7/6

BREAK POINTS WON
Gauff – 2/6
Williams – 1/2

FIRST SERVE PERCENTAGE
Gauff – 58
Williams – 65

PERCENTAGE OF POINTS WON ON FIRST/SECOND SERVE
Gauff – 77/61
Williams – 77/40

TOTAL POINTS
Gauff – 78
Williams – 68

Former world number one Serena Williams said she is thinking about breaking Margaret Court's grand slam record after making a winning start at the Australian Open.

Williams, who is looking to equal Court's record haul of 24 slam trophies, eased past Russian teenager Anastasia Potapova 6-0 6-3 in Melbourne on Monday.

The 38-year-old superstar has been stuck on 23 majors since claiming the 2017 Australian Open, following four losing finals at Wimbledon (2018 and 2019) and the US Open (2018 and 2019).

Asked about the looming record, Williams told reporters post-match: "I think it's factored a lot into my game, and now it's just more or less about doing the best that Serena Williams can do.

"Margaret Court was a wonderful, great champion. And now how great is Serena Williams? That's it. 

"That's kind of what I have been thinking about the last couple of weeks and months. It definitely helps me relax a lot."

Williams only needed 58 minutes to see off Potapova on Rod Laver Arena, where the seven-time Australian Open champion tallied 24 winners in less than an hour.

"It was good. I felt like I started out really well," the American said. "Played really strong in the first set, and just building on that. I feel like I can still improve and get better throughout this tournament, for sure. This is a good stepping stone for right now."

All eyes have been on Melbourne Park after poor air quality plagued qualifying last week.

Australia has been ravaged by bushfires in recent months, triggering poor air conditions and concerns among players for their welfare ahead of the year's first grand slam.

Australian Open organisers have come under fire after allowing qualifiers to take place on Tuesday, despite a thick haze of smoke, forcing Slovenian Dalila Jakupovic to retire, while Eugenie Bouchard and Bernard Tomic also struggled.

Williams added: "I definitely was concerned, and am. I think it changes every day. There is a lot of factors on how it can change. That is still a concern for, I think, pretty much everyone.

"Every day all the players and the tournament make sure that all the players are updated on what the play conditions would be like. Every single day we get updates. That's been really good to see that the Australian Open take that stance on that. It's literally every day, we are just waiting every day to see how the air quality would be."

Naomi Osaka has found a happy place in Melbourne, saying it was strange how upbeat she was at the Australian Open.

Osaka was too good for Marie Bouzkova 6-2 6-4 at Rod Laver Arena on Monday, beginning her title defence with a comfortable win.

The 22-year-old Japanese star said it was unusual just how happy she was in Victoria's capital.

"For me it's really odd here. I just feel really happy," Osaka told a news conference.

"I don't really have this mentality of defending now. It's really weird. But I'm very thankful for it, because I think if I did go into the match with that, I would have been tense."

Osaka, who faces Zheng Saisai in the second round, revealed her dad watched her from the players' box for the first time at a grand slam during her victory over Bouzkova.

"He's just superstitious. Before when he used to sit in my box I would just look at him and complain a lot, but I have matured over the past three or four years he hasn't sat in my box," she said.

"He was like my coach during Tokyo and Beijing. He was sitting in my box the entire time. He has a good winning streak by sitting in my box."

Serena Williams claimed her 350th grand slam match victory after easing through the Australian Open first round on Monday.

Looking to equal Margaret Court's record of 24 slam titles, American superstar Williams outclassed teenager Anastasia Potapova 6-0 6-3.

Williams, who already holds the record for most match wins at majors, celebrated the milestone after just 58 minutes on Rod Laver Arena.

The 38-year-old - a seven-time Australian Open champion - will face Tamara Zidansek in the second round.

 

Serena Williams produced a brilliant display to power past Anastasia Potapova in the Australian Open first round on Monday.

The American star started her campaign in Melbourne in style, needing just 58 minutes to cruise past Potapova 6-0 6-3.

Williams was in dominant form from the outset on Rod Laver Arena as her bid to join Margaret Court on a record 24 grand slam titles started with an impressive victory.

The 38-year-old is now 19-0 in Australian Open first-round matches, and will face either Tamara Zidansek or Han Na-lae next.

Williams was flawless in the first set, hitting 10 winners and winning the opener in just 19 minutes as Potapova had no answers.

The Russian teenager improved in the second set and even broke for a 2-1 lead before Williams responded.

Williams grabbed a decisive break in the eighth game when Potapova sent a forehand into the net, her victory completed in less than an hour.

 

STATISTICAL BREAKDOWN
Serena Williams [8] bt Anastasia Potapova 6-0 6-3

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Williams – 24/16
Potapova – 11/17

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Williams – 9/2
Potapova – 4/2

BREAK POINTS WON
Williams – 5/6
Potapova – 1/3

FIRST SERVE PERCENTAGE
Williams – 61
Potapova – 50

PERCENTAGE OF POINTS WON ON FIRST/SECOND SERVE
Williams – 81/45
Potapova – 62/24

TOTAL POINTS
Williams – 58
Potapova – 35

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