Reigning champions Naomi Osaka and Novak Djokovic won in straight sets in windy conditions on Wednesday to continue their title defence campaigns at the Australian Open.
Women’s world number one Ash Barty also advanced in same fashion as the competition eyes the third round.
Djokovic had an easier task than in his opening match, defeating Japan’s Tatsuma Ito 6-1, 6-4, 6-2 at Rod Laver Arena.
The seven-time Grand Slam champion followed local hope and top seed Barty, who also had much smoother sailing than in her opening match.
She beat Slovenia’s Polona Hercog 6-1, 6-4 without dropping a game.
Over at Margaret Court Arena, 2019 champion Osaka showed signs of frustration as she stayed perfect but still struggled with consistency in her 6-2, 6-4 rout of China’s Saisai Zheng.
Following Osaka on the showcourt, 2018 champion Caroline Wozniacki roared back from 5-1 down in the first set and 3-0 down in the second.
She defeated 23rd seed Dayana Yastremska 7-5, 7-5 in her farewell tournament.
Melbourne Arena saw a different dramatic comeback.
Teen sensation Coco Gauff fought her way from a set down to a third round match-up with Osaka, coming four months after meeting her at the US Open — making headlines for a touching post-match moment.
Earlier, two-time major winner Petra Kvitova earned herself a battle against Spain’s Paula Badosa, winning 7-5, 7-5 in just under a hour and 40 minutes.
Eleventh seed Aryna Sabalenka on Wednesday became the highest seed to fall in the first round of the Open.
She lost to veteran Carla Suarez Navarro 7-6 (8-6), 7-6 (8-6) in a game rescheduled from Tuesday —- a knock-on of Monday’s bad weather.
Osaka had a few stumbles on her way to the third round, failing to consolidate an early break in the first before breaking the Chinese twice more.
She took the first set with a ripper forehand down the line at the end of a 14-shot rally.
Early in the second set, she kicked her racquet in frustration after dropping her serve on 1-1 with another unforced error as Zheng continued playing an extremely defensive match.
After another moment of frustration as she handed the Chinese a 4-2 advantage, Osaka turned things around, winning all five remaining games to close the game out in 80 minutes.
“I got really fired up when she was up [4-2] and people started clapping. I guess probably that was the best part of the game,” Osaka said in her on-court interview following the match.
Asked whether they were clapping for her or her adversary, the Japanese quipped: “For the drama to be honest … I was complaining over here [by her box] and then I was almost throwing my racket over there — I didn’t though — but then it worked out.”
Barty took just over an hour to dismiss Hercog, continuing on the strong backhand of her opening outing against Ukraine’s Lesia Tsurenko, when she won 5-7, 6-1, 6-1.
“It was important for me to get a good start, and I was able to do that,” Barty told journalists after the win.
At Margaret Court Arena, the illustrious career of Danish star Wozniacki looked set to end with an exit from the Melbourne slam.
But the former world number one had other plans as she came back from two break-downs in both sets in an incredible show of resilience.
“I was really nervous going into my first round. Actually today I felt pretty calm, and quickly it became 5-1, and I was saying `OK, well, hopefully I can be out here for another 30 minutes’, you know, to try and take it in,” Wozniacki said in her on-court interview.
Men’s sixth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece was also through to the third round of the slam after Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber withdrew.(dpa/NAN)