Victoria Azarenka in a hurry at Australian Open

 

Victoria Azarenka led a quintet of leading players in cruising into the second round of the Australian Open today.

Azarenka, the third seed, thrashed Britain's Heather Watson in a ruthless display on Rod Laver Arena to join defending champion Kim Clijsters, last year's beaten finalist Li Na, eighth seed Agnieszka Radwanska and 10th seed Francesca Schiavone in posting opening-day wins.

Azarenka dropped the opening game to 19-year-old Watson from Guernsey but then ran through the next 12 to secure a 6-1 6-0 win.

The Belarusian was satisfied with her display after only arriving in Melbourne at the weekend following her win in the Sydney event last week.

She said: "The score looks easy but to play the match is never easy, especially for me coming here only on Saturday.

"I only hit once before the match and the first time I hit on centre court was this morning.

"So I think it was a good performance but there are still a few things I have to work on to be better in the second round."

Azarenka is among the favourites for the title but she dismissed talk of breaking through and winning her first grand slam, adding: "I am not really approaching it that way, I'm approaching it day by day because every day is different.

"Sometimes you feel great, sometimes you feel sleepy and sometimes you feel crazy energetic.

"It's really important how well you take each moment."

Clijsters looked rusty in her win over Maria Joao Koehler, a qualifier from Portugal.

The 11th-seeded Belgian missed the majority of the second half of last season through injury and then had to pull out of the Brisbane International warm-up event with a hip injury.

And her usual fluency was lacking although she managed to advance courtesy of a 7-5 6-1 triumph.

China's Li, who became the first Asian player to win a grand slam when she claimed the French Open crown last June, beat Ksenia Pervak 6-3 6-1, Schiavone saw off Laura Pous-Tio 6-1 6-3 and Radwanska edged out American Bethanie Mattek-Sands 6-7 (12/10) 6-4 6-2.

PA

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