Defending champ Azarenka stutters; Wozniacki sizzles

Melbourne: Title-holder Victoria Azarenka moved into the Australian Open second round yesterday but she made a meal of the match and looked far from her best in blazing conditions on Rod Laver Arena.

Caroline Wozniacki
Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki returns against Spain’s Lourdes Dominguez Lino during their singles match yesterday. Pic/AFP

The second seed overcame world number 91 Johanna Larsson 7-6 (7/2), 6-2 but her game was riddled with unforced errors and poor serving, in contrast to Serena Williams’ clinical first-round win late Monday.

The Belarusian took an hour and 46 minutes to get past the Swede as temperatures soared towards 43 Celsius (109.4 Fahrenheit). “It was a tough first set. The first match can often be tricky and the weather was not helping,” said Azarenka.

“It was important to win that first set and I really found my rhythm in the second set.” Azarenka is searching for her third consecutive Melbourne title, a feat last achieved by Martina Hingis between 1997-1999.

Marriage won’t affect career: Wozniacki
Meanwhile, Caroline Wozniacki said yesterday she was in a good place in her private and professional life and insisted her forthcoming marriage to golf star Rory McIlroy would not affect her career.

Victoria Azarenka
Victoria Azarenka

The former world number one is 10th in the rankings and she got her Australian Open campaign off to the perfect start with a 6-0, 6-2 win over Spain’s Lourdes Dominguez Lino.

The Dane is still seeking her first Grand Slam title — her deepest run in a major event being to the 2009 US Open final — and she said marriage to McIlroy would not detract from her career goals. 

“We live together now, so it’s not going to really change that much,” she said when asked how tying the knot would affect their lives. “You know, just having that calmness off the court and just, you know, we know what we want, and it just gives us even more time to focus on our careers. 

Obviously we always try and make our schedules fit. We’ve done that pretty well, so I don’t see why it’s not going to work for another how many years I want to play.” 

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