Victoria Azarenka and Serena Williams suffer scares before progressing at the Australian Open

Tournament favourite Williams appeared to hurt ankle

Victoria Azarenka and Serena Williams both suffered scares before securing their places in the second round of the Australian Open today.

Tournament favourite Williams was not troubled in the slightest by opponent Edina Gallovits-Hall, winning 6-0 6-0, but by a right ankle injury which required lengthy treatment after a heavy fall on Hisense Arena.

Azarenka, the top seed, was given a tougher-than-expected ride by Monica Niculescu before coming through 6-1 6-4 after a second-set wobble.

Having romped into a 4-0 lead, it appeared plain sailing for Williams, a five-time champion in Melbourne, before she slipped on her already strapped ankle chasing down a forehand and crashed to the ground.

She eventually limped back to her seat and the trainer removed the bandaging from her foot to administer treatment.

After having the strapping re-applied, Williams was okay to continue and she showed little discomfort as she hammered three colossal forehand winners in the next four points on her way to a third break and a 5-0 lead.

Williams received more treatment at the change of ends but held to 15 to seal the first set.

The second set started just as the first had - with Gallovits-Hall double-faulting to give Williams an opening break.

She broke to love in game three and had help from yet another Gallovits-Hall double - her eighth - to make it 5-0, before serving out another love game to complete the most comprehensive of victories in 54 minutes.

Next up for Williams - assuming there is no lasting damage to her ankle - will be either Slovakia's Magdalena Rybarikova or Garbine Muguruza of Spain.

Defending champion Azarenka seemed set for an equally convincing scoreline when she ran through the first set with minimal fuss.

But Romanian Niculescu surprised everyone inside Rod Laver Arena by swiftly establishing a 3-0 second-set advantage. It almost became 4-0 but Azarenka clung grimly on to her serve by staving off two break points.

It proved a turning point as the world number one, roared on by close friend Redfoo from the band LMFAO, hit back.

She drew level at 3-3, prompting a frustrated Niculescu to crack her racket into the court - an act which earned her a warning from the chair umpire.

Azarenka then broke again for 5-4 as Niculescu's challenge waned and she served it out to advance.

It was her first appearance on RLA since her thrashing of Maria Sharapova in last year's final and Azarenka admitted she was pleased to have avoided an embarrassing return.

"It's great to be back, there were a lot of overwhelming emotions out there," she said.

"I started really well but the second set was a struggle. I am pleased to get through."

Former world number Caroline Wozniacki also progressed but only after a wonderful deciding-set comeback against Sabine Lisicki.

Lisicki led 3-0 in the third only to run out of steam as 10th seed Wozniacki hit back to clinch a morale-boosting 2-6 6-3 6-3 triumph.

Eighth seed Petra Kvitova overcame Francesca Schiavone in three sets in a battle of former grand slam champions, 14th seed Maria Kirilenko ousted Vania King and 16th seed Roberta Vinci overcame Silvia Soler-Espinosa.

There were a couple of shocks, though, with seventh seed Sara Errani, a quarter-finalist here last year, and 12th seed Nadia Petrova both going out in the first round.

Errani was beaten 6-4 6-4 by Spain's Carla Suarez Navarro while Petrova was thrashed 6-2 6-0 by Japanese veteran Kimiko-Date Krumm.

At 42, Date-Krumm became the oldest winner of a women's singles match in the tournament's history.

"I'm very happy to win today, but I don't play for the records," she said. "Even when I lose, I still enjoy it. Of course, every time I's tough. But still I enjoy playing.

"I love tennis. I like practice. I like games. I like the tour. I enjoy it a lot."


Tepper had a stunningly successful career as a songwriter
Arts and Entertainment
Len Blavatnik

Today in the Premier League, Everton face Manchester United, and Arsenal take on Chelsea at the Emirates Stadium. A victory for Jose Mourinho's side, and they could win the Premier League title as soon as Wednesday with a win over Leicester.

Arts and Entertainment
The original field in High Wycombe, which is used as the banner image on a number of websites belonging to local Tory associations
general election
Arts and Entertainment
Books should be for everyone, says Els, 8. Publisher Scholastic now agrees
booksAn eight-year-old saw a pirate book was ‘for boys’ and took on the publishers
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions