Australian Open: Swiatek makes stuttering start, US Open finalist Fernandez bundled out

Fernandez had exited the hardcourt major without a win in her two previous appearances but she would have hoped to get past the first obstacle this time around against an opponent she beat in both prior meetings.

Maddison Inglis

Maddison Inglis reacts after winning a point in her first round Australian Open singles match against Leylah Fernandez.   -  Getty Images

Seventh seed Iga Swiatek made a stuttering start to her Australian Open campaign in the Melbourne sun on Tuesday but was soon into her Grand Slam groove to reach the second round for the fourth straight year.

The former French Open champion had to battle back from an early break to oust Briton Harriet Dart 6-3 6-0 on Rod Laver Arena and set up a second round clash with Swede Rebecca Peterson.

"You could see that first few games were pretty tricky for me. With the sun, I know I got broken in my second service game," she said.

"I'm pretty happy that I was patient, I found the rhythm throughout the match. That's pretty positive."

Swiatek split with long-time coach Piotr Sierzputowski at the end of last year and has teamed up with Tomasz Wiktorowski for this trip.

Swiatek said Wiktorowski, who previously mentored former world number two Agnieszka Radwanska, had quickly understood the kind of relationship she wanted with a coach.

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"Just be open-minded and maybe be sometimes patient because I like to discuss a lot," she added.

"I'm not that kind of person who just listens and does stuff. I always have my opinion. I like to say it ... I'm pretty happy that he understands that."

Still only 20, Swiatek has an enviable Grand Slam record even if you disregard her stunning 2020 triumph at Roland Garros and has reached at least the fourth round at all but one of her last seven majors.

Swiatek arrived in Australia last year under a huge weight of expectation after winning her first Grand Slam crown and conceded it had initially bothered her. "I was like, 'Hey, it's not working out. I'm thinking about French Open. I don't know if I'm going to get through this'," she recalled.

"(But) when the Grand Slam started and I played in the Australian Open, I came back to normal. So it went pretty smoothly for me."

Fernandez loses to World No. 133

U.S. Open finalist Leylah Fernandez lost 6-4, 6-2 to local wildcard Maddison Inglis to continue her run of first-round exits at Melbourne Park.

Fernandez had exited the hardcourt major without a win in her two previous appearances but the world number 24 would have hoped to get past the first obstacle this time around against her 133rd ranked opponent whom she beat in both prior meetings.

The third-seeded Muguruza, meanwhile, kept a perfect streak intact when she won her first-round match at the Australian Open for the 10th straight time, beating No. 77-ranked Clara Burel 6-3, 6-4 to open play on Rod Laver Arena on Day 2.

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A runner-up in Australia in 2020 to Kenin — who was a first-round loser on Monday — Muguruza said she's always extra cautious early in a big tournament.

"I am aware, I am aware," Muguzura said, laughing, when asked if she knew her Melbourne Park streak.

"Very tricky. You're always nervous going out there on Rod Laver, which I love, and starting a Grand Slam campaign. I've always gone through the first round.

"Very happy the way I played and, of course, controlling the nerves." Muguruza will next play French veteran Alize Cornet, who beat Viktoriya Tomova 6-3, 6-3.

Sixth-seeded Anett Kontaveit, runner-up to Muguruza at least year's WTA Finals, had a 6-2, 6-3 win over Katerina Siniakova. Also advancing were No. 10 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and No. 14 Simona Halep, a former No. 1 and a two-time major winner who reached the 2018 final here at Melbourne Park.

No. 19 Elise Mertens beat Vera Zvonareva 6-4 7-5, and former US Open champion Sam Stosur rallied to beat Robin Anderson of the US 6-7 (5) 6-3 6-3 to start her 20th — and last — Australian Open campaign.

Two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova lost to Sorana Cirstea of Romania for the second straight year, this time 6-2 6-2 in the first round.

"Yeah, I think that she likes my game, that she just is going for it," Kvitova, an Australian Open finalist three years ago, said.

"I did have some health issues the whole month, as well, so it was tough to practice during home month.

(With inputs from AP)

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