By Jaclyn Stacey
(January 14, 2013) MELBOURNE PARK, Australia – Venus Williams kicked off her Australian Open 2013 campaign in emphatic fashion, disposing of Kazakh Galina Voskoboeva 6-1, 6-0 in one hour on Hisense Arena at Melbourne Park on Monday.
This is the comeback Australian Open for Williams after being sidelined from the 2012 event while dealing with the diagnosis of Sjögren’s syndrome. She finished 2012 ranked no. 24 after starting the year outside of the top 100.
Voskoboeva won the opening service game of the match, sending down an ace on game point to lead the encounter 1-0. It would go on to be the only game she would win in a match that saw Williams completely dominate her opponent with her aggressive style of play.
Williams took advantage of a break point opportunity in the third game of the first set by coming into the net and producing a tight forehand volley which Voskoboeva could not reach.
Williams then won the next two games before experiencing some resistance while serving at 4-1 with Voskoboeva producing two confident forehand winners to force the game to go to deuce. She produced two opportunities to break but Williams saved both by utilizing her trademark powerful serve. She then sealed the game with an ace to lead 5-1.
Voskoboeva appeared to struggle with serving in the midday sun as Williams confidently broke Voskoboeva in the next game, sending a return forehand winner down the line to claim the first set 6-1.
With her opponent clearly frustrated and with younger sister Serena supporting from the sidelines, Williams had little trouble in the second set, steamrolling to a 6-1 6-0 victory.
“I mean, the stats looked good for me. I haven’t seen them all yet, but I got a high first-serve percentage and more winners than errors, so that always makes a good match. I don’t think my opponent quite got the hang of — you know, it’s hard to play the first match in a major, first thing of the year, and that can be a lot of pressure. I did my best to just close it out.”
When asked to judge her performance today, Williams said “just continue to have depth on the balls. For me, I’m a net player; I like to get to the net. But the courts are a lot slower, so you have to be selective on how you get to the net, especially. You know, the stronger players you play with, the more experience. And continuing to serve well always makes the match easier. So those are some of the big-picture things.”
Williams will play the winner of the match between France’s Alize Cornet and Marina Erakovic in the second round on Wednesday.
In other day one women’s action, second seed Maria Sharapova denied her opponent a single game, bageling both sets to win 6-0, 6-0 against countrywoman Olga Puchkova and will play Misaki Doi in the second round before a potential third round clash with Venus Williams.
Australia’s main female hope Samantha Stosur battled her way to a two set victory against Kai-Chen Chang of Taipei in one hour and 42 minutes on Rod Laver Arena. With a 0-1 record against Chang and an opening round loss at Australian Open 2012, Stosur had a lot to prove in front of the home crowd. The first set ended in a tie-breaker after a tight first set in which the two swapped breaks on several occasions. Stosur prevailed in the tie break and claimed the first set 7-6(7-3). She closed out the match with a much easier second set 7-6(7-3) 6-3. She will next play the winner of the all Chinese match between Yuxuan Zhang and Jie Zheng.
2011 runner-up Li Na had a convincing win over Sesil Karantantcheva 6-1 6-3 in the first match on Margaret Court Arena today. She will play Olivia Govortsova on Wednesday and will go into the match with a 2-0 winning record over her opponent.
Fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska defeated Australian open 2013 Wildcard play-off winner 7-5 6-0 and will play the winner of Arantxa Rus and Irina-Camelia Begu in the second round.
For updated women’s singles results, please visit AustralianOpen.com
Jaclyn Stacey is a Melbourne based freelance journalist covering the Australian Open tournament as media for Tennis Panorama News. Follow her Australian Open updates on @TennisNewsTPN. Follow her personal twitter @JackattackAU.