Australian Open: Wozniacki, Sharapova seal easy victories

Updated: Jan 15, 2019, 10:14 IST | AFP

Caroline Wozniacki won her maiden Slam at Melbourne Park last year but has since been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis

Australian Open: Wozniacki, Sharapova seal easy victories
Denmark's Caroline Wozniacki returns during her Rd 1 match yesterday. Pic/AFP

Caroline Wozniacki fought back tears after launching her Australian Open defence with a convincing 6-3, 6-4 win over Alison Van Uytvanck of Belgium yesterday. The third seed won her maiden Slam at Melbourne Park last year but has since been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis.

The Dane, who is bidding to become the first woman to defend the title since Victoria Azarenka in 2013, showed no outward sign of the illness as she eased past world number 52 Van Uytvanck in straight sets. Meanwhile, five-time Grand Slam winner Maria Sharapova warned she cannot be written off after serving a 6-0, 6-0 "double bagel" to Britain's Harriet Dart in the first round.

Russia's Maria Sharapova
Russia's Maria Sharapova

The Russian arrived at Melbourne Park as the 30th seed after failing to impress at Grand Slam level since returning from a doping ban in 2017. But Sharapova, 31, shrugged off the scorching Australian conditions to prevent Dart winning a game.

In another match, second seed and 2016 champion Angelique Kerber was also impressive, breezing past Slovenia's Polona Hercog 6-2, 6-2. Earlier, two-timea Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova strolled into the second round with a 6-3, 6-2 win over Magdelena Rybarikova of Slovakia. Germany's 14th seed Julia Goerges was knocked out, as was former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko.

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