Sport Tennis Serena Williams wins to set up Australian Open second round grudge match

Serena Williams wins to set up Australian Open second round grudge match

serena williams
Serena Williams was pregnant when she won the 2017 Australian Open, but may skip the event entirely this year. Photo: Getty
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Serena Williams has seen off Belinda Bencic in straight sets to reach the second round of the Australian Open in Melbourne.

Improving her phenomenal first-round record at grand slams to 66 wins and one defeat, Williams outclassed the highly rated Swiss teenager 6-4 6-3 in one hour, 19 minutes on Tuesday.

The six-times champion next plays Lucie Safarova on Thursday in a rematch of their 2015 French Open final.

Williams beat Safarova in that match in a classic and close encounter.

Meantime wayward serves were the only concern for world No.5 Karolina Pliskova as she booked her place in the second round.

Just half of the Czech’s first serves landed in but she had little trouble controlling the court once the ball was in play, thrashing Sara Sorribes Tormo 6-2 6-0 on Tuesday.

Pliskova was ruthless on the Spaniard’s serve, breaking her all but one time, as she closed out the match in a tick over an hour on Rod Laver Arena.

The US Open runner-up admitted nerves had played a part in the centre-court match but was pleased to come away with an easy win.

“Hopefully the next match will be much better,” she said. “I feel good especially when after I won a tournament in the first week of the year (Brisbane International).”

Pliskova was ruthless on Spaniard’s serve, forcing her opponent deep behind the court and breaking her serve all but once.

Pliskova awaits the winner of the match between Russian qualifier Anna Blinkova and world No.32 Monica Niculescu.

Among the other seeds playing on day two, Briton Johanna Konta, seeded ninth, defeated Kirsten Flipkens 7-5, 6-2.

Frenchman Gilles Simon, the 25th seed in the men’s draw, advanced to the second round with a 6-1, 6-3, 6-3 triumph over Michael Mmoh.

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