Defending champion Jelena Ostapenko booked her place in the last 16 of the Luxembourg Open with a comfortable straight-sets win over Jule Niemeier.

The world number 30 came out on top 6-2 6-2 in a little under an hour to set up a meeting with Arianne Hartono, who earlier beat Anna-Lena Friedsam 7-6 (7-5) 3-6 7-6 (7-4).

Fifth seed Marketa Vondrousova also shuffled through to the next round thanks to a 6-2 6-3 triumph against Alison Van Uytvanck, while Zarina Diyas will face tournament favourite and Olympic champion Belinda Bencic next after beating Anna Karolina Schmiedlova in three sets.

Aliaksandra Sasnovich was made to work harder for her 7-5 7-6 (8-6) win against Lesia Tsurenko, with that the longest straight-sets match of 2021 so far at two hours and 30 minutes, according to the WTA.

Greet Minnen and Mandy Minella were also victorious on Tuesday, overcoming Nuria Parrizas-Diaz and Varvara Gracheva respectively.

At Zavarovalnica Sava Portoroz in Slovenia, meanwhile, home favourite Kaja Juvan eliminated top seed Petra Martic with a 6-3 6-4 win. Sweden's Rebecca Peterson was another seed to fall, going down in straight sets to Lucia Bronzetti.

Petra Kvitova was one of a handful of seeded players to take the court at the Western and Southern Open on Monday and came away victorious against a past champion of the event. 

The 11th-seeded Kvitova defeated 2019 Western and Southern winner Madison Keys 7-5 6-4 on a rain-plagued opening day of main-draw play at the tournament outside Cincinnati, Ohio. 

The Czech saved eight of nine break points against her serve while breaking Keys three times, and that was enough to pull out the victory. 

Kvitova's countrywoman Barbora Krejcikova, the ninth seed, made her singles debut at the WTA 1000 event with a 6-3 6-2 rout of Daria Kasatkina. 

Fifteenth seed Elise Mertens also was a straight-sets winner, taking down Nadia Podoroska 6-3 6-4, while 13th seed Jennifer Brady defeated Ekaterina Alexandrova 6-3 7-6 (7-3) in a match that finished shortly before 1 a.m. local time.

Though only Krejcikova was in action Monday, the field in Cincinnati includes nine of the top 10 players in the rankings, led by Ashleigh Barty and Naomi Osaka in their first appearances since the Tokyo Olympics. 

In other matches on the first day of play, Heather Watson defeated Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-2 3-6 6-1, while Paula Badosa outlasted Petra Martic 4-6 6-4 7-6 (11-9) in a two-hour, 34-minute marathon. 

Yulia Putintseva breezed past Zhang Shuai 6-2 6-0, Jelena Ostapenko beat Tamara Zidansek 7-5 6-1 and Jil Teichmann downed Sorana Cirstea 6-2 6-0. 

Angelique Kerber beat Maria Sakkari 6-2 6-2, with Alison Riske matching that scoreline in a defeat of Leylah Fernandez.

Shelby Rogers won 6-4 2-1 when her countrywoman Danielle Collins retired with an injury. 

Jelena Ostapenko has targeted a return to the top 10 of the WTA rankings after beating Anett Kontaveit in straight sets to win the Viking International in Eastbourne.

The Latvian was the first wildcard to reach the final since Daniela Hantuchova in 2000 and kept up her good form ahead of Wimbledon by beating Kontaveit 6-3 6-3.

French Open 2017 winner Ostapenko dominated from the start and picked up the victory in one hour and five minutes, adding to her three previous career WTA titles.

She has now won titles on all four surfaces – clay, hard, indoor and grass – and is hopeful of improving on her current ranking of 43rd in the world.

"I think it says that I can be dangerous and playing well on all surfaces probably," she said in her on-court interview. 

"Of course I enjoy to play more on just some of them, but in general I can adjust well to different surfaces.

"I think this is just the beginning for me. If I keep playing the way I played this tournament, I think I can be back in top 10 and play well.

"I just have to keep that in my mind and work even harder."

Ostapenko made good use of her strong service game to break Kontaveit's serve in the third and fifth games.

Kontaveit earned a first break in the eighth game with four service return winners in a row, but Ostapenko recovered from 40-15 in the next game to take the opening set.

It was then plain sailing for Ostapenko in the second set as she earned the only break at 2-1 and held for the remainder, clinching the victory with her second championship point.

Ostapenko will face Leylah Fernandez in the first round of Wimbledon next week.

Angelique Kerber won two games on Friday to progress to the final of the inaugural Bad Homburg Open, with unseeded Katerina Siniakova her opponent.

Kerber made home advantage count, following up a 2-6 6-3 6-3 quarter-final win over Amanda Anisimova – a match that was pushed back from Thursday when rain washed out play – with a triumph over top seed Petra Kvitova.

The former world number one came back from behind to win 3-6 6-4 7-6 (7-3) and take a spot in her first WTA singles final since 2019.

Kerber and Kvitova have now met 15 times, with the German winning on nine occasions.

She will go up against an unexpected finalist in the form of Siniakova, who defeated Sara Sorribes Tormo.

The Czech is the world number two in doubles, winning three grand slam titles in that format, and will be looking to replicate the feat of her regular partner Barbora Krejcikova, who triumphed at the French Open this year.

At the Viking International in Eastbourne, Jelena Ostapenko made light work of Elena Rybakina, while Anett Kontaveit made it into the final due to Camila Giorgi's retirement.

Latvian wildcard Ostapenko finished her 6-4 6-1 victory with zero double faults – the first time she has managed such a performance since winning in Luxembourg two years ago.

"I'm really happy with the way I played this week, and every match I played better and better," Ostapenko told a news conference after clinching a spot in her ninth career final.

"It's been a while [since making a] final, so I'm really happy to be in a final and looking forward to tomorrow's match."

The 2017 French Open champion will face Estonia's Kontaveit, who has won their previous two meetings and was 5-4 up in the opening set against Giorgi when her opponent retired hurt.

"It's actually nice to have a Baltic final, because [we're] not such big countries, but we still have good players," Ostapenko added.

"Anett, I know since juniors. We have been playing a lot, maybe not so many matches but we practice sometimes together, in juniors, and played even doubles. So I know her quite well."

Camila Giorgi extended her strong run at the Viking International in Eastbourne as she dumped out top seed Aryna Sabalenka on Thursday.

The Italian had already beaten defending champion Karolina Pliskova en route to the last eight and pulled off another upset as she claimed a 7-6 (7-5) 0-6 6-4 win over Sabalenka.

Giorgi's bid for the third WTA Tour title of her career will now continue with a semi-final against Anett Kontaveit on Friday.

The Estonian also needed three sets to book her place, bouncing back from losing the opener to beat Viktorija Golubic 2-6 7-6 (7-2) 7-5.

Daria Kasatkina was unable to build on her win over fourth seed Iga Swiatek in the last round as she missed out on a spot in the semi-finals.

The Russian took the first set against Jelena Ostapenko but failed to build on that success as the Latvian ran out a 1-6 7-5 6-2 winner.

In the final match of the day, Anastasija Sevastova was beaten by Elena Rybakina, who had earned her place in the quarters by beating second seed Elina Svitolina the day before.

World number 61 Sevastova, who eliminated Coco Gauff, won the first set 6-2, but Rybakina fought back to claim the next two 7-6 (9-7) 7-6 (7-5).

Rainy conditions ensured there was no play at this week's other WTA event held in Bad Homburg, Germany, though one player was able to secure passage to the semi-finals.

Sara Sorribes Tormo claimed her place in the next round after Victoria Azarenka, her scheduled opponent, pulled out due to injury.

Second seed Elina Svitolina crashed out of the Viking International in Eastbourne at the last-16 stage on Wednesday with a straight sets defeat to Elena Rybakina.

The world number five lost 6-4 7-6 (7-3) to 21st-ranked Rybakina, whose reward is a meeting with Coco Gauff's conqueror Anastasija Sevastova in the quarter-finals.

Third seed Bianca Andreescu of Canada also lost in straight sets, Anett Kontaveit of Estonia beating her 6-3 6-3.

And it was the same story for fourth seed Iga Swiatek, though she at least took a set as she was beaten by Daria Kasatkina.

It took an impressive rally from Russia's Kasatkina to bounce back from losing the first en route to a 4-6 6-0 6-1 success.

She will now face Jelena Ostapenko, who beat Ons Jabeur 5-7 6-4 6-3.

In fact, top seed Aryna Sabalenka was the only seed to avoid a surprise exit on Wednesday as she cruised through.

The Belarussian, ranked fourth in the world, beat Alison Riske 6-1 6-4 in just over an hour to set up a clash with Camila Giorgi.

Giorgi had earlier followed up a win over defending champion Karolina Pliskova in the last round by beating Shelby Rogers 6-3 4-6 6-2.

There was no such string of shocks at Wednesday's other WTA event, the Bad Homburg Open in Germany, though first and second seeds Petra Kvitova and Victoria Azarenka needed three sets to progress.

Kvitova lost a second-set tie-break as she beat Ann Li 6-2 6-7 (4-7) 6-1 to reach the quarters, while Azarenka defeated Alize Cornet 6-4 3-6 7-6 (9-7).

Angelique Kerber, the fourth seed, progressed more smoothly, earning a comfortable 6-0 6-2 win over Russia's Anna Blinkova.

And Nadia Podoroska saw off the challenge of Patricia Maria Tig, winning 7-6 (7-4) 2-6 6-4.

Iga Swiatek celebrated her 20th birthday in style on Monday, overcoming Kaja Juvan in straight sets to get her French Open title defence off to a strong start.

Swiatek clinched her maiden grand slam – and first senior career title – at Roland Garros in 2020, and the Pole was in supreme form as she confidently saw off close friend Juvan 6-0 7-5.

A champion in Rome in the lead-up to Roland Garros, Swiatek made it 20 game wins in a row – dating back to her Internazionali d'Italia semi-final against Coco Gauff – until Juvan held her own in the second game of the second set.

Swiatek saved two break points at 5-5 before wrapping up the win.

"It's never easy to play against your best friend," Swiatek said after the match. "I have some experience because I played with Kaja for a few times. I've played with my other friends on junior level.

"You just try to block this friendship for two hours, just focus on the game.

"I think I'm doing that pretty well. It's nice to have that skill. So I was just trying to treat Kaja as any other girl, as any other opponent, because in sports when we are on court you can't have thoughts that are you going to make your game softer."

ANGUISH FOR ANDREESCU 

There was no such route through for Bianca Andreescu, the sixth seed coming unstuck against world number 85 Tamara Zidansek.

Andreescu's stint at this year's French Open lasted three hours and 20 minutes, but the world number four could not find a way through and duly became the biggest women's casualty of the first round so far.

The 2019 US Open champion headed into the tournament on the back of pulling out of a quarter-final at the Internationaux de Strasbourg due to an abdominal injury and was playing in only her third tour-level match on clay. She won the opening set on a tie-break, yet it was Zidansek who prevailed 6-7 (1-7) 7-6 (7-2) 9-7 to claim her first win over a top-10 opponent.

Kiki Bertens was another seed to drop out, the number 16 going down 6-1 3-6 6-4 to Polona Hercog.

KENIN BATTLES ON

World number five Sofia Kenin saw off a tough challenger in the form of 2017 Roland Garros champion Jelena Ostapenko.

"I knew it was gonna be a tough match, she's a great player," Kenin said, after a 6-4 4-6 6-3 victory. "I knew I needed to play my best tennis in order to win."

Kenin, 22, came from a break down twice to take the opening set, and though Ostapenko hit back, American Kenin held her nerve in the decider, setting up a second-round tie with compatriot Hailey Baptiste.

"I'm a feisty kid, and I have to fight in order to win," added Kenin, who lost to Swiatek in last year's final but has struggled for results in 2021. "I've got a little bit of feistiness in me and that helps me in these types of matches."

Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic could meet at the semi-final stage of the French Open, while Iga Swiatek and Ash Barty are in the same half of the draw.

Nadal will start his quest to win the Paris grand slam a staggering 14th time with a first-round encounter against Australian Alexei Popyrin next week.

Defending champion Nadal, the third seed, is in the same half of the draw as fellow all-time greats Djokovic and Federer, who could face the Serbian world number one in the last eight.

Top seed Djokovic, who is two major titles shy of the record of 20 held by Federer and Nadal, will take on Tennys Sandgren in the first round.

Swiss great Federer will come up against a qualifier in round one at Roland Garros, while two-time runner-up Dominic Thiem is up against Pablo Andujar.

Pole Swiatek claimed her maiden grand slam title at the French Open last year and takes on her close friend Kaja Juvan in the first round.

World number one Barty, who did not travel to Paris to defend her title in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, has will make her return at the clay-court major against Bernarda Pera.

Serena Williams comes up against Irina-Camelia Begu, while last year's runner-up Sofia Kenin must do battle with the 2017 champion Jelena Ostapenko in a standout first-round match.

Carla Suarez Navarro can expect plenty of support when she takes on Sloane Stephens in her first tournament since successfully completing cancer treatment.

Ash Barty dramatically abandoned her Internazionali d'Italia quarter-final against Coco Gauff on Friday due to a right arm injury.

The world number one was leading 6-4 2-1 in Rome when, with her left thigh also heavily strapped, she pulled out of the match following talks with a trainer.

Barty's decision was precautionary as she will begin her French Open campaign in a little over two weeks' time, bidding to regain the title she won two years ago.

The scare came just hours after world number three Simona Halep announced she tore a calf muscle this week, putting the Romanian's Roland Garros prospects in some doubt.

Providing an update after the match with Gauff, which was interrupted by a rain delay, Australian Barty said: "The pain was becoming too severe so it was important to listen to my body and do the right thing knowing we have a slam."

Gauff, who had hit 12 winners to 15 unforced errors prior to her opponent's withdrawal, will now compete in her first career WTA 1000 semi-final.

Karolina Pliskova remained on course for a second Rome triumph in three years, after saving three match points to edge out Jelena Ostapenko.

The 2019 champion, who also finished runner-up last year, was 5-4 down in the final set when digging deep to hold off her 49th-ranked opponent.

The thrilling match went to a tie-break and Pliskova reeled off seven straight points after losing the opener to advance 4-6 7-5 7-6 (7-1).

"I'm just proud of how I fought," Pliskova said at her post-match news conference. "I'm happy that I stayed in there and fought until the end.

"We played last month, so I knew what was going to be happening. You can never get ready for some of the balls which she's playing."

Petra Martic stands between Pliskova and a place in the final for the third year running after the Croatian defeated Jessica Pegula 7-5 6-4.

Pegula eliminated Naomi Osaka earlier in the week but was second best against Martic, who progressed in one hour and 40 minutes.

Martic trailed 2-0 in the opening set before twice breaking Pegula to move 3-2 in front, but her opponent hit back to make it 5-5 in a tight contest.

However, Martic managed to break in the 11th game and served out the set, before showing her steeliness in the second to remain on course for a maiden WTA 1000 crown.  

Russian duo Svetlana Kuznetsova and Vera Zvonareva recorded contrasting victories on home soil to reach the last eight of the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy.  

Kuznetsova - who has won both the French and US Open during her distinguished career - needed just over an hour to get past teenage qualifier Wang Xinyu by a 6-1 7-5 scoreline.  

The 35-year-old converted six of the nine break-point opportunities she created, though was made to work for her win in the second set having previously taken nine of the opening 10 games.  

After failing to serve out for the match when 5-3 ahead, the fourth seed eventually prevailed when recording a break of her own with the score at 6-5.  

Zvonareva, meanwhile, was on court for three hours and 10 minutes as she produced an impressive upset, knocking out third seed Fiona Ferro 6-7 (8-6) 7-5 7-6 (7-2).  

"We both were fighting for every point, trying to hang in there. I think I was able to play some good tennis when it mattered, and I'm happy with the win of course,” Zvonareva said after being involved in the longest match in the history of the tournament, per the WTA's website.  

The 36-year-old came out on top in a deciding tie-break having been unable to hold on to an early 2-0 lead in the set.  

Anastasia Gasanova and Katarina Zavatska had set a new record for the longest contest earlier on Wednesday, the former eventually prevailing 6-2 6-7 (8-6), 7-5 after three hours and four minutes in an eventful first-round tie.

Ekaterina Alexandrova is another Russian player to progress to the last eight, seeing off Tereza Martincova in straight sets.

In the final match, Romanian qualifier Jaqueline Cristian surprised Jelena Ostapenko 6-3 7-6 (11-9) to reach her first ever WTA 500 quarter-final, where her opponent will be Kuznetsova.

Jelena Ostapenko wasted little time in her opening match at the St Petersburg Ladies Trophy, while there were also wins for Aliaksandra Sasnovich and Vera Zvonareva in Monday's action. 

Ostapenko needed less than an hour to get past Paula Badosa, who caused an upset when the pair met at last year's delayed French Open. 

There was to be no Roland Garros repeat for Badosa, though, as she was swept aside 6-2 6-2.  

The sixth-seeded Ostapenko started her campaign impressively in Russia, producing 26 winners and just eight unforced errors. Her serve was also in good order, never giving her opponent a chance of a break. 

Sasnovich had to work a little harder, rallying from a set down to see off Ana Bogdan 2-6 6-2 6-1. Her reward is a clash with third seed Fiona Ferro, who received a bye through to the second round.

Zvonareva, meanwhile, progressed in straight sets against Arina Rodionova, the Russian dropping just four games during a contest that lasted one hour and 22 minutes.  

Victory was sealed at the second opportunity, a sliced backhand into the net by her opponent sending Zvonareva through to the last 32. 

Victoria Azarenka booked her spot in the second round of the Qatar Open with a 6-2 6-3 win over Svetlana Kuznetsova on Monday. 

It was the first time the pair had faced off since the final of the 2016 Miami Open and Azarenka, who won back-to-back titles in Doha in 2012 and 2013, struck first, eventually claiming the opening set in 44 minutes. 

She needed six match points to see off Kuznetsova in the second set to tee up a last-16 meeting with either Laura Siegemund or Elena Rybakina. 

There was also a win for former world number one Garbine Muguruza, who defeated Veronika Kudermetova 6-2 7-6 (7-4).

"Veronika was a very tough opponent," Muguruza told a media conference. "[I'm] just happy with this win. We played a year ago, and I remember it was a tough match. I'm happy to have closed it in two sets."

Fifth seed Kiki Bertens, meanwhile, was dumped out by a rampant Jelena Ostapenko in straight sets. 

The 2017 French Open champion hit 26 winners on her way to an emphatic 6-0 6-2 win against her Dutch opponent, who was playing her first match in five months following Achilles surgery. 

Anett Kontaveit overcame number seven seed beaten Australian Open finalist Jennifer Brady 6-1 6-2 to set up a second-round clash with Angelique Kerber, who beat Cagla Buyukakcay 6-4 6-2.

In the day's other match, Maria Sakkari beat Mayar Sherif 6-0 6-3. 

Meanwhile, teenage qualifier Clara Tauson shocked number one seed Ekaterina Alexandrova 6-3 6-4 in the first round of the Lyon Open. 

There were also wins for Arantxa Rus, Nina Stojanovic, Timea Babos, Greet Minnen and Fiona Ferro in France. 

One in eight women in the Australian Open draw have already won a grand slam title.

One in eight. It is staggering that of the 128 players who set out in the hope of singles glory at Melbourne Park, there are 16 major champions among them, and perhaps never has it been so difficult to predict who will carry off the title.

Compare it to the men's draw, where there are just five grand slam singles winners, and where you would struggle to make a compelling case for any more than three of those this year, with apologies to Stan Wawrinka and Marin Cilic.

As long-running dynasties near their end on the men's and women's tours, the WTA is a lengthy step ahead of the ATP with a cast of appealing characters already assuming leading roles.

The leader of the pack

Three-time grand slam champion Naomi Osaka is at the forefront of a school of rising stars, but she has impressive rivals for company.

The last four years have seen the 15 women's majors won by 12 different players, whereas in the men's game, Rafael Nadal (6), Novak Djokovic (5), Roger Federer (3) and Dominic Thiem (1) have creamed off all the top prizes in the same period.

Often criticised in the past for a perceived lack of depth, in the years when Serena Williams won seemingly at will, the women's tour has exploded with a rush of bright and young talent.

Osaka is a revelation and a leader, on and off the court. Twice a US Open champion now, and a winner in Australia two years ago, the 23-year-old Japanese star took a powerful stance for racial equality at Flushing Meadows back in September, at the height of Black Lives Matter protests. She wants to achieve even more off the court than on it, where she looks assured of one day leaving an impressive legacy.

If there is any area where Osaka's game falls down it is consistency. She has surprisingly not passed the fourth round in 14 of her 17 grand slam appearances, but on every occasion she has gone beyond that stage it has been en route to lifting a trophy.

In hot pursuit

Last year's three slam champions were, at the times of their triumphs, just 21 (Sofia Kenin - Australian Open), 19 (Iga Swiatek - French Open) and 22 (Osaka - US Open).

The women's game has not seen anything comparable in terms of youthful winners of its blue riband tournaments since 2004, when the 21-year-old Justine Henin won in Australia, Anastasia Myskina landed the Roland Garros title at 22, Maria Sharapova was a 17-year-old bolter to Wimbledon glory and 19-year-old Svetlana Kuznetsova scored a stunning Flushing Meadows victory.

Last year does not touch the 1997 season, when a 16-year-old Martina Hingis won the Australian Open, Wimbledon and US Open, denied a grand slam clean sweep by 19-year-old Iva Majoli's shock French Open final win over the Swiss.

But women's tennis is still seeing a remarkable shift to relative youth.

The 2019 season saw a then 19-year-old Bianca Andreescu scoop a stunning US Open win, while Ash Barty took the French Open.

Andreescu has been sidelined with a knee injury since the 2019 WTA Finals, but she is back for Australia, where Queenslander Barty, now 24, is the home hero.

Brace for the prospect of Andreescu and Barty joining Kenin, Swiatek and Osaka in a group of five who can take the women's game boldly into the post-Williams era.

But the Williams era isn't over

This is true, and again Serena will make another attempt to land that elusive 24th grand slam, the one that would move her level with Margaret Court on the all-time list.

She remains, at the age of 39, a magnificent competitor and a beguiling player, as does sister Venus, who turns 41 in June.

Serena has lost her last four grand slam finals, however, and the most recent run to a title match came almost 18 months ago in New York, where Andreescu had her number.

As the new gang of five threaten to pull away from the old establishment, perhaps Williams is now in the next group, along with the likes of Simona Halep, Victoria Azarenka and Petra Kvitova: still perfectly capable of winning another slam or even multiple slams, but it feels important to strike now.

Serena has not won any of her last 10 slams, making it the longest span in her professional career without winning a major.

Barty party, or Sofia the second?

Osaka begins the Australian Open as favourite with bookmakers, but world number one Barty will have home support and could make that count. How she performs will be keenly watched, given she chose not to travel once the COVID-19 pandemic hit last year, sitting out 11 months.

Should Barty get on a roll, hopes will be high she can become the first Australian woman to take the title since Chris O'Neil in 1978. Last year, Barty fell in the semi-finals to Kenin, and she will be eager to land a second slam title.

Kenin, whose intense concentration and steely resolve helped her pull off last year's shock Melbourne win, and follow up with a run to the French Open final, can be a match for anyone. She will be aiming to become the first woman to win back-to-back Australian Open titles since Azarenka in 2012 and 2013.

Success on this level has come perhaps ahead of schedule for the American, and the same can be said for Swiatek, whose demolition of the field at Roland Garros in October made a mockery of her being ranked number 53 in the world.

The teenage Polish player became her country's first grand slam singles champion, and with that status comes the expectation she will follow it up. How that turns out for her will be one of the most intriguing of sub-plots in the new season.

Changing priorities

Halep said in a recent WTA interview that winning an Olympic medal was her "main goal" for 2021, although Osaka will also have the Tokyo Games firmly circled in her diary.

For the likes of those other players among the 16 slam winners in the Melbourne draw, there will be differing targets this year, too.

Angelique Kerber, Sloane Stephens, Jelena Ostapenko and particularly Garbine Muguruza may yet come good again on the big stage at some point this season.

For Venus Williams, Kuznetsova and Samantha Stosur, it may be a case of one final hurrah.

As the likes of Coco Gauff emerge as potential future big-stage winners, and fledgling ambassadors, the women's game looks in safe hands.

Serena Williams and Simona Halep started the season with straight-sets victories in Melbourne a week before the Australian Open gets under way.

Williams and Halep played in an exhibition event with a crowd of 4,000 watching on in Adelaide last Friday and they were back in competitive action three days later.

Legendary American Williams beat Daria Gavrilova 6-1 6-4 to move into the third round of the Yarra Valley Classic.

The fifth seed struck 27 winners to 15 unforced errors on Margaret Court Arena as she set up a meeting with Tsvetana Pironkova, who ousted Donna Vekic 1-6 6-4 6-2.

Williams said: "It was a good match for me. It wasn't easy at all. It was lots of rallies and lots of movement, and she's from here, so she obviously always plays hard. So it was really good and it felt good to clinch that in the end."

Third seed Karolina Pliskova, Petra Martic, Danielle Collins and Marketa Vondrousova also advanced to the last 16 on Monday.

Elsewhere, top seed Halep is through to the third round of the Gippsland Trophy following a 6-4 6-4 win over Anastasia Potapova.

Halep hit 23 winners and broke twice in each set in what was her first official match since October.

Elina Svitolina, the third seed, beat Andrea Petkovic 6-1 6-4, while Coco Gauff, Ekaterina Alexandrova and Jelena Ostapenko were among the other winners seven days prior to the start of the first grand slam of 2021.

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