The top seeds in the women's draw duly qualified on the first day of the Australian Open, led by an impressive Jelena Jankovic. France's Marion Bartoli overcame a calf injury to defeat Britain's Melanie South, 6-2, 6-4.
AFP - The women's Australian Open has got under way with victories for world number one Jelena Jankovic, seventh seed Vera Zvonareva and Serbian pin-up Ana Ivanovic.
Jankovic launched her campaign in impressive fashion Monday, brushing aside first round opponent Yvonne Meusburger in searing conditions.
While she complained her feet were burning on Melbourne Park's rubberised surface as temperatures soared, Jankovic kept her cool to down Austria's Meusburger 6-1, 6-3.
The Serbian looked focussed and superfit as she opened her bid for a maiden Grand Slam title that critics say she needs to justify her ranking as the world's best player.
"It's exciting to begin this tournament and to start with a win is always nice," she said.
In an ominous warning to her rivals, the 23-year-old gave Meusburger no way into the match, serving strongly and firing down winners at will as she used her superior court coverage to repeatedly leave her opponent stranded.
The Serb showed no sign of the flu that forced her out of a warm-up tournament in Hong Kong.
In a first set lasting just 24 minutes, Jankovic smashed 14 winners to Meusburger's one and won 78 percent of her first serves.
The second set took 46 minutes as both players struggled with the intense heat but Jankovic said she had to expect tough conditions at the season-opening Grand Slam.
"It was so hot and my feet were really burning," she said.
"If I'm going to go very far I have to deal with it."
Seventh seed Zvonareva dug deep to claw past Magdalena Rybarikova of Slovakia 7-6 (7/2), 6-0 and into the second round, relieved to overcome early jitters.
The Russian was pushed all the way in the first set by her 20-year-old opponent, but after easily winning the tie-break she took control and won the second in just 23 minutes.
The 24-year-old, who has never gone beyond the quarters in 24 Grand Slams, has not played this year and looked rusty early on as she struggled to cope with the powerful ground strokes of her younger opponent.
But as the match wore on Zvonareva began to get her timing and showed enough to suggest she would push her more fancied rivals for the year's first Grand Slam title.
She admitted her lack of recent tournament play had caused her problems against Rybarikova, who reached the semi-finals in Hobart last week.
"It was a bit of a struggle in the first set because I had no rhythm and everything was new -- practice is nothing like an official match," Zvonareva said.
"But then I was able to find my rhythm a little bit better and I was very happy the way I played in the second."
Rybarikova, the world number 57, started impressively, holding her first serve comfortably then breaking Zvonareva to open up a 2-0 lead.
The experienced Russian broke back immediately to get games back on serve then broke again and looked likely to race away with the first set.
However, Rybarikova fought back and broke again in the eighth game, then held her next service game to love to take the set into a tie-break.
Zvonareva though took the tie-break comfortably then stormed through the second set against an increasingly despondent Rybarikova.
"I lifted my game in the second set -- I started to play a little bit faster and started to hit my shots a little bit better," Zvonareva said.
"Maybe she wasn't able to deal with that, she wasn't ready that I could change my game after the first set."
Crowd favourite Ivanovic survived a first round scare, downing Germany's Julia Goerges 7-5, 6-3.
The fifth seed, a losing finalist here last year, failed to dominate a player ranked 107 in sweltering conditions on the opening day of the first Grand Slam of the season.
The 21-year-old, seeking to reverse a dramatic form slump following her breakthrough win in last year's French Open, needed one hour 42 minutes minutes to eliminate Goerges.
She made a nervous start when she double faulted to hand the 20-year-old German the opening point of the match.
The Serb's forehand then failed on her next service game, allowing the unheralded Goerges to snatch a break and go up 2-1 in the first set.
Ivanovic had to dig deep to prevent Goerges converting another break point, desperately defending her serve against a player making her first appearance at the Australian Open.
The former world No.1, who suffered shock defeats in the early rounds of the Wimbledon and US Open, broke back to level at 3-3 but struggled to assert her authority on the match.
She closed out the first set after 56 minutes after Goerges came close to forcing a tiebreak but let her opponent off the hook with a string of unforced errors.
The pair again exchanged breaks at the beginning of the second set but the Australian heat then began to take its toll on the German,
Ivanovic's confidence grew as Goerges mistakes mounted and she finished the match emphatically firing down two aces.
However, the crowd favourite at Melbourne Park will be looking for dramatic improvement as the tournament advances.
Women's singles - first round results:
Sania Mirza (India) beat Marta Domachowska (Poland) 6-1 6-4
Sara Errani (Italy) beat 27-Maria Kirilenko (Russia) 6-0 6-4
Virginia Ruano Pascual (Spain) beat Mariana Duque Marino (Colombia) 6-3 6-2
Caroline Wozniacki (Denmark) beat Shahar Peer (Israel) 6-3 6-2
Stephanie Cohen-Aloro (France) beat Barbora Zahlavova Strycova (Czech Republic) 6-3 6-4
Edina Gallovits (Romania) beat Maria Elena Camerin (Italy) 6-3 2-6 6-3
Ai Sugiyama (Japan) beat Stephanie Dubois (Canada) 6-0 7-6
Jelena Dokic (Australia) beat Tamira Paszek (Austria) 6-2 3-6 6-4
Galina Voskoboeva (Kazakhstan) beat 23-Agnes Szavay (Hungary) 6-3 3-6 6-4
Monica Niculescu (Romania) beat Katie O'Brien (Britain) 6-4 6-4
Kirsten Flipkens (Belgium) beat Rossana De Los Rios (Paraguay) 6-3 6-2
Jelena Jankovic (Serbia) beat Yvonne Meusburger (Austria) 6-1 6-3
Marion Bartoli (France) beat Melanie South (Britain) 6-2 6-4
Andrea Petkovic (Germany) beat Kathrin Woerle (Germany) 5-7 7-6(0) 4-0 (Woerle retired)
Kaia Kanepi (Estonia) beat Kimiko Date Krumm (Japan) 6-4 4-6 8-6
Nathalie Dechy (France) beat Viktoriya Kutuzova (Ukraine) 6-3 6-0
Alberta Brianti (Italy) beat Yanina Wickmayer (Belgium) 6-4 6-2
Vera Zvonareva (Russia) beat Magdalena Rybarikova (Slovakia) 7-6(2) 6-0
Patricia Mayr (Austria) beat Julia Schruff (Germany) 6-4 6-1
Tsvetana Pironkova (Bulgaria) beat Karolina Sprem (Croatia) 6-0 6-4
Ana Ivanovic (Serbia) beat Julia Goerges (Germany) 7-5 6-3
Alize Cornet (France) beat Mariya Koryttseva (Ukraine) 6-3 6-4
Date created : 2009-01-19