Serena Williams Advances After Venus Loses
MELBOURNE, Australia -- Serena Williams loves a bit of drama, even if she has to add the theatrical embellishments herself.
On a stage where she's been performing since last century and against a 17-year-old local wild-card entry, the top-ranked Williams tried to put on a show to distract the partisan Australian Open crowd from the lopsided 6-2, 6-1 margin of victory.
She played a drop shot with a Musketeer-style flourish and a skip to set up triple-break point early in the second set against No. 155-ranked Ashleigh Barty on Monday. And she bunted another volley back with a dramatic, unorthodox pose three games later. But around those points, she was hitting winners so cleanly that Barty had almost no chance to compete.
Williams has carried the momentum over from a dominant 2013 season that yielded 11 titles, including her 16th and 17th Grand Slam singles championships, and a record bounty.
Williams is now 14-0 in first-round matches at the Australian Open, where she's won five titles -- the first in a Williams sisters final in 2003. Venus Williams hasn't been back to another championship match at the Australian Open, and on Monday dropped a first-round match for the second time.
The seven-time major winner dominated for 1½ sets before losing to No. 22-seeded Ekaterina Makarova, the Russian who had an upset win over Serena in the fourth round two years ago.
Serena Williams is on a 23-match winning streak, including a title defense at the season-opening event in Brisbane where she beat Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka on consecutive nights.
Not all the favorites made it through on the opening day at Melbourne Park. Sixth-seeded Petra Kvitova, the 2011 Wimbledon champion, lost to in three sets to Luksika Kumkhum, a 20-year-old Thai who is playing in only her second major.
Seventh-seeded Sara Errani and No. 12 Roberta Vinci, both from Italy, also made first-round exits.
There was no such trouble for Novak Djokovic.
The second-seeded Serb improved his winning streak to 22 matches at Melbourne Park, commencing his bid for a fourth consecutive title with a 6-3, 7-6 (2), 6-1 win over Lukas Lacko of Slovakia.
It was the first competitive match Djokovic has played in front of his new coach, six-time major winner Boris Becker.
Of the main challengers in Djokovic's half, No. 3 David Ferrer and No. 7 Tomas Berdych advanced in straight sets, while No. 8 Stanislas Wawrinka only had to play for 65 minutes before his opponent retired with an injured left leg.
The loaded top half of the men's draw starts Tuesday, with No. 1 Rafael Nadal, 17-time Grand Slam winner Roger Federer, Wimbledon champion Andy Murray and No. 5-ranked Juan Martin del Potro all in action.
Azarenka, the two-time defending champion, also plays Tuesday. Sharapova finishes the schedule of matches on Rod Laver Arena on Day 2.