Serena plays down injury fear
A reviewof Tuesday's action in the women's singles at the Australian Open.
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Serena Williams suffered an injury scare at the Australian Open but insisted she would be fit for her second-round encounter on Thursday "unless something fatal happens".
Williams suffered a heavy fall during her crushing 6-0 6-0 win over Edina Gallovits-Hall, damaging her right ankle and having to undergo lengthy treatment on Hisense Arena.
But the American, chasing a fifth title in Melbourne, was adamant she would return to court to face Garbine Muguruza in two days' time.
"I'll be out there," said the third seed. "I mean, unless something fatal happens to me, there's no way I'm not going to be competing.
"I'm alive, my heart's beating, I'll be fine."
The fall occurred with Williams leading 4-0 in the first set. It was reminiscent of the injury which forced her out of the Brisbane International last year and undermined her challenge in Melbourne as she lost to Ekaterina Makarova in the last 16.
She added: "It reminded me a lot of Brisbane. I thought 'oh no, not again'.
"But I've had such a good year that I don't think it's anything negative. I just hope it's nothing serious because it was serious last year."
Top seed Victoria Azarenka also suffered a scare before coming through her opening match with Monica Niculescu 6-1 6-4.
Azarenka, the defending champion, ran through the first set with minimal fuss only for Niculescu to swiftly establish a 3-0 second-set advantage. It almost became 4-0 but Azarenka cling grimly on to her serve by staving off two break points.
It proved a turning point as the world number one, roared on by close friend Redfoo from the band LMFAO, hit back.
She drew level at 3-3, prompting a frustrated Niculescu to crack her racket into the court - an act which earned her a warning from the chair umpire.
Azarenka then broke again for 5-4 as Niculescu's challenge waned and she served it out to advance.
It was her first appearance on Rod Laver Arena since her thrashing of Maria Sharapova in last year's final and Azarenka admitted she was pleased to have avoided an embarrassing return.
"It's great to be back, there were a lot of overwhelming emotions out there," she said.
"I started really well but the second set was a struggle. I am pleased to get through.
"It was a good first match. That's what I needed to get into that competitive spirit. It's a good match to build from."
Former world number Caroline Wozniacki is also through but only after a wonderful deciding set comeback against Sabine Lisicki.
Lisicki led 3-0 in the third only to run out of steam as 10th seed Wozniacki hit back to clinch a morale-boosting 2-6 6-3 6-3 triumph.
Eighth seed Petra Kvitova eased past Francesca Schiavone in three sets in a battle of former grand slam champions, 14th seed Maria Kirilenko ousted Vania King and 16th seed Roberta Vinci overcame Silvia Soler-Espinosa.
There were a couple of shocks, though, with seventh seed Sara Errani, a quarter-finalist here last year, and 12th seed Nadia Petrova both going out in the first round.
Errani was beaten 6-4 6-4 by Spain's Carla Suarez Navarro while Petrova was thrashed 6-2 6-0 by Japanese veteran Kimiko-Date Krumm.
At 42, Date-Krumm became the oldest winner of a women's singles match in the tournament's history.
"I'm very happy to win today, but I don't play for the records," she said. "Even when I lose, I still enjoy it. Of course, every time I lose ... it's tough. But still I enjoy playing.
"I love tennis. I like practice. I like games. I like the tour. I enjoy it a lot."