Women’s tennis world No. 1 Iga Swiatek overcame a strong early challenge from former champion Sofia Kenin to reach the second round of the Australian Open on Tuesday.
Kenin, who won the 2020 Australian Open and lost to Swiatek in the 2020 French Open final, failed while serving for the first set and wound up losing 7-6 (2), 6-2 in Melbourne.
“Really happy, it’s not easy to play the first round, especially in the first Grand Slam of the season,” Swiatek said in a courtside interview.
“It was not easy at the beginning to find my rhythm and I felt a little bit off. I feel like Sofia did everything to keep it that way.”
“I’m happy that I managed to get my level up in the second set.”
China’s top-ranked tennis player Zheng Qinwen has also advanced to the second round.
Zheng defeated America’s Ashlyn Krueger 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 on Tuesday night at Melbourne Park, where she is the 12th seed for the first Grand Slam of 2024.
It is the third consecutive year that Zheng, 21, has won her first-round match at the Australian Open.
Zheng hit 12 aces for the match, nine more than Krueger, and 11 more winners than her opponent as well as 12 fewer unforced errors.
China’s veteran Wang Yafan overcame her slow start to stun 22nd seed Sorana Cirstea from Romania, reaching the Australian Open second round for the first time since 2019.
Wang, ranked 94th in the world, beat Cirstea 0-6, 7-5, 6-2 in one hour and 57 minutes at Melbourne Park on Tuesday.
It marked a second straight major upset in the first round at a grand slam tournament for Wang, who had beaten seventh seed Caroline Garcia to make the second round at the 2023 U.S. Open, capping off a year where she climbed the rankings from outside the top 400 to the top 100.
In men’s singles, China’s rising tennis star Shang Juncheng replicated his historic feat of 2023 by again making the second round at the Australian Open on Tuesday.
Shang, who was the first male player from the Chinese mainland in the Open era to win a match in the main draw at the Australian Open in 2023, came back from a set down to beat America’s Mackenzie McDonald 6-3, 1-6, 3-6, 6-4, 6-2.
It marks the 18-year-old’s first win over five sets at a Grand Slam tournament and means that two Chinese men have made the second round at the Australian Open for the first time, after Zhang Zhizhen also won his first-round match on Monday.
Former women’s tennis world No. 1 Naomi Osaka plans to jump straight back into action following her early Australian Open exit on Monday, drawing up a schedule that includes tournaments in Dubai, Indian Wells, Miami and Charleston.
The 26-year-old from Japan, who returned only two weeks ago after 15 months out and having her first child in July, said she had also discussed penciling in a full clay season with her coach Wim Fissette.
“Wim just talked to me about playing a lot more matches,” Osaka told reporters after the twice Australian Open champion fell 6-4, 7-6(2) to Frenchwoman Caroline Garcia in her opener.
“I don’t know if he wants to add stuff. I’m definitely thinking of playing Dubai, Indian Wells, Miami, Charleston and then probably like a full clay season.”
(With input from agencies)