Serena Williams and China's Li Na in clinical form
Thai Luksika Kumkhum beats sixth seed Petra Kvitova in biggest shock of first round at Australian Open
A clinical Serena Williams and China’s Li Na showed their intent on an eventful first day at the Australian Open on Monday.
Top-ranked Williams extended her winning streak to 23 matches by putting Australian wild-card entry teenager Ashleigh Barty to the sword 6-2, 6-1, while Li, last year’s runner-up, raced through her opener against 16-year-old Ana Konjuh of Croatia 6-2, 6-0.
“I think it was very lucky we played today. Tomorrow [Tuesday] will be worse,” said Li referring to the heat. She said she had moved her practice for Tuesday, when temperatures are forecast to soar, to an earlier slot. “I didn’t want to kill myself on the court,” she said.
Unseeded Venus Williams wilted in the midday heat, losing to Russia’s Ekaterina Makarova 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 while Italian seventh seed Sara Errani crashed out to Julia Goerges 6-3, 6-2.
Former Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, the sixth seed, fell victim to a sensational upset when she was ambushed 6-2, 1-6, 6-4 by unheralded Thai Luksika Kumkhum.
“I think that probably I wanted it too much, and then everything just fell down,” said the crestfallen Czech.
The ice packs were out in force on day one with the Netherlands’ Kiki Bertens needing attention and having her blood pressure measured during her defeat to former world number one Ana Ivanovic.
Britain’s Heather Watson and Laura Robson both fell at the first hurdle, leaving Wimbledon champion Andy Murray as Britain’s lone singles representative.
Officials had words of reassurance for the players ahead of Tuesday’s expected high temperatures, saying nobody had ever died from extreme heat at a tennis tournament.
“We have had players almost die from drinking too much. So the danger is overdrinking, not under-drinking and becoming dehydrated,” said the tournament’s chief medical officer, Tim Wood.
“Given the length of time tennis matches generally go for and the sweat rate of most normal, healthy athletes, they won’t get to a state where they get too critically dehydrated.”