Australian Open: Serena, Osaka into round 2

American great Serena Williams began the Australian Open with a rapid first-round win Monday morning amid concerns over air quality in Melbourne.

Williams, chasing a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title, took the first set in 19 minutes in a 6-0 6-3 victory over Russia’s Anastasia Potapova.

Third seed and defending champion Naomi Osaka started slowly against Marie Bouzkova before winning 6-2 6-4.

Osaka, who broke the net with one of her serves against Czech Bouzkova, will play China’s Saisai Zheng in the second round in Melbourne.

Williams, who won her first WTA title in three years in the run-up to the opening Grand Slam of the year, will play Slovenia’s Tamara Zidansek next.

The 38-year-old American was made to work harder in the second set by 18-year-old Potapova, who broke in the third game of the second set after a double-fault by Williams.

But Williams immediately broke back and completed a convincing victory with 58 minutes on the clock.

Former champion Caroline Wozniacki got her final tournament before retirement off to a good start with a 6-1 6-3 victory over American Kristie Ahn.

World number one Ashleigh Barty and Britain’s Johanna Konta are also in action on Monday.

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