Published: Mon, January 20, 2020
Sport | By Kayla Schwartz

Osaka makes net-busting start to Australian Open title defence

Osaka makes net-busting start to Australian Open title defence

Naomi Osaka has found a happy place in Melbourne, saying it was odd how upbeat she was at the Australian Open.

It has been coined "The Happy Slam" for a reason, and Serena Williams' dance moves are an accurate representation of that.

Osaka was too strong for Bouzkova in a 6-2 6-4 win on Rod Laver Arena in the first meeting between the pair.

But former champion Caroline Wozniacki, playing her last tournament before retiring, safely reached the second round as she beat Kristie Ahn 6-1, 6-3.

One more title would see her draw level with Australian Margaret Court as the most prolific Grand Slam victor. She hasn't added to her career tally since victory at the 2017 Australian Open, and then becoming Olympia's mom.

"I hadn't been able to win as a mom, so it was nice to finally be able to win a tournament with a 2-year-old now", Williams said of her Auckland win. Previous year I feel like I was young. "I hope for her".

"Tsitsipas played semis here past year".

But the 90th-ranked Russian, overawed in the first set, fought back and broke Williams' serve in the second, helped by some sloppiness from the American. "Is it super unsafe or is it totally safe to play?' I told them, 'Look, I just think communication is key for all of us, for everybody.' We just need to do more because I feel like I hadn't gotten enough information".

Tournament officials are closely monitoring pollution and will halt play and close the three main stadiums' roofs if particulate matter suspended in the air hits PM2.5 200. "But I think every year I get more comfortable on the tour, so hopefully that somewhat translates into my matches".

She later explained: "He's just superstitious".

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Naomi Osaka signs autographs for fans after winning the match against Marie Bouzkova in Melbourne January 20, 2020.

Thirty-eight-year-old Swiss icon Federer will play American Steve Johnson first as the third seed bids for a 21st Grand Slam crown and a seventh in Australia.

Two-time Wimbledon victor Petra Kvitova, who lost the final here past year to Osaka, advanced 6-1, 6-0 over Katerina Siniakova on Margaret Court Arena in a mid-afternoon match that continued while play was suspended because of rain on the the outside courts.

Last week, Williams joined fellow tennis legends Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Caroline Wozniacki, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alexander Zverev at the Open's Rally for Relief match to help raise money for those affected by the bushfires.

Asked what she expected from the partnership with Fissette, Osaka said: "Just knowledge".

"It was really tough for me trying to control my nerves", said Osaka. "I practiced really well".

Other seeded players advancing on the women's side included No. 13 Petra Martic and No. 14 Sofia Kenin.

For Fognini, the delay was likely a welcome development, considering the Italian was getting soundly beaten by Reilly Opelka, now by a score of 6-3, 7-6 (7-3), 1-0.

However, Denis Shapovalov, 20, lost his cool in a 6-3 6-7 (7-9) 6-1 7-6 (7-3) defeat by Hungary's Marton Fucsovics.

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