Australian Open: Women's round-up

It was the second year in a row that Romania's Simona Halep lost in the first round at Melbourne Park.

German top-seed Angelique Kerber moved on to the second round despite dropping the second set.   -  Getty Images

World No. 1 Angelique Kerber battled past Lesia Tsurenko in a stuttering start to her first Grand Slam title defence at the Australian Open Monday.

The top seed ultimately proved too much for the Ukrainian, winning 6-2, 5-7, 6-2 on Rod Laver Arena and but the German's laboured victory was far from impressive.


Kerber, 28, stunned Serena Williams in the final last year and went on to win the US Open, dethroning the American powerhouse as the world's top ranked player.

She is not only defending a major title for the first time but also playing her maiden Grand Slam as top seed, admitting ahead of the tournament that she was carrying the burden of expectation.

READ: >Detailed report


Simona Halep fell at the first hurdle for a second straight year after the Romanian, hampered by a nagging knee problem, lost 6-3 6-1 to American Shelby Rogers.

Halep, ranked fourth at Melbourne Park, became the first seed to be bundled out of the season-opening Grand Slam, falling to the power-hitting American in 75 minutes.

She sought medical advice after the first set and was seen flexing her left knee throughout the second.

"I had pain at my knee," Halep told reporters. "For me, in the second set, was difficult to move anymore, but she deserved to win. She was aggressive, and she hit very strong."

Halep said she had been battling the problem since the WTA Tour Finals in Singapore. She had no issues during the off-season but it flared up again in Shenzen two weeks ago and she had been trying to control the pain since.

Read: > After Big Bash, Barty shines in Australian Open


Veteran campaigner Venus Williams, meanwhile, dug deep to grind her way into the second round, beating plucky Ukrainian youngster Kateryna Kozlova in two gruelling sets.

Venus, who played her first Australian Open in 1998 and turned professional in 1994, the year her opponent was born, came through the near two-hour marathon 7-6 (7/5), 7-5.

"It's never easy playing the first round," said the American, who turns 37 this year and is competing in her 73rd Grand Slam, extending her Open-era record.

"I was just trying to find my rhythm. She didn't make it easy so I'm happy to be through."

She next faces either Swiss qualifier Stefanie Voegele or Japan's Kurumi Nara.


Garbine Muguruza saved a set point in the first set and needed a medical timeout before advancing with a 7-5, 6-4 win over Marina Erakovic.

Canadian Eugenie Bouchard faced little trouble as she packed off USA's Louisa Chirico 6-0, 6-4 to reach the second round.

Olympic gold medalist Monica Puig raced through her opening match, beating Patricia Tig 6-0, 6-1. Duan Yingying was among the early winners with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Rebecca Sramkova.

Australian teenager Destanee Aiava’s milestone match ended in a 6-3, 7-6 (4) loss to German qualifier Mona Barthel. The 16-year-old Melbourne high school student became the first player born in this millennium to play a main draw match at a major.

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