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 lose...it'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."

PA

BUY WIMBLEDON TICKETS

Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones