Aus Open: Serena, Sharapova advance, Wozniacki crashes

Asked how she rated her game, Serena Williams credited her serve for seeing her home and gave herself an "A" for effort. "I'm just thinking positive. You know, that match is done with. On to the next one. So like I said, A for effort."

Serena Williams celebrates after winning her first round match against Camila Giorgi.   -  Getty Images

Caroline Wozniacki waves to the crowd as she leaves after losing her first round match against Yulia Putintseva.   -  Reuters

World number one Serena Williams battled past Camila Giorgi to reach the Australian Open second round and ease concerns over her injured knee. In searing heat, the six-time Australian Open champion, who is gunning to equal Steffi Graf's Open-era record of 22 Grand Slam titles, ground down the Italian 6-4, 7-5 in 1hr 45 mins. Wearing a canary yellow pleated skirt and matching midriff-baring shirt, displaying her pierced navel, Williams was composed but not her usual clinical self during the draining workout.

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“It's great. It was an hour and 45 minutes and I didn't feel it at all,” she said of her knee, after successfully coming through her first tour-level match since the US Open in September.

“Okay, I haven't played in a long time, but I have been playing for 30 years, so it's kind of -- I try to focus on that.”

Asked how she rated her game, she credited her serve for seeing her home and gave herself an “A” for effort. “I'm just thinking positive. You know, that match is done with. On to the next one. So like I said, A for effort.”

Sizzling Sharapova fires Grand Slam warning shot

Former champion Maria Sharapova crushed Japan's Nao Hibino in a ruthless first-round display as she fired a warning to her rivals at the Australian Open on Monday. The fifth-seeded Russian, attempting to win her first title at Melbourne Park since 2008, was in blistering form to take the match 6-1, 6-3 in 73 minutes on Margaret Court Arena.

There were concerns ahead of the clash about her lack of match fitness, after Sharapova pulled out of the Brisbane International with a forearm injury. But the 28-year-old, last year's beaten finalist, was in fine form after hours on the practice courts as she handed a tennis lesson to Hibino, who was making her Grand Slam debut.

“It was just nice to get on court and face the opportunity of playing a first match. No matter how much you train, it's always different when you walk out onto the court,” she said.

“It's definitely a relief to get that first one out of the way. There's always a little bit of nerves, sometimes more, sometimes less, going into any Grand Slam, but especially when it's your first tournament of the season,” she said. “I try not to focus so much on the opponent or the atmosphere and just really focus on myself and try to bring the positives of a good training week, just try to execute that, keep it simple.”

Furious Wozniacki crashes out

Furious former world number one Caroline Wozniacki crashed out of the Australian Open at the first hurdle Monday and admitted she had no one but herself to blame. The Dane, who remains one of the most marketable players in tennis despite never winning a major in 35 attempts, tossed away a one-set lead against 76th-ranked Kazakh Yulia Putintseva.

“I would say it's a pretty sh**** start to the season,” Wozniacki told a press conference. “It wasn't a pretty first set but I got it done and really should have closed it off in two. You know, I let her back into the match, and it was basically my own fault that I'm not here as the winner.”