Thank you for joining me for this match here on VAVEL USA! We apologize for the technical difficulties during the match but we hope you enjoyed following this match. A recap of this match will be available shortly. This is Max Gao, signing off.
Closing thoughts: Overall, Williams played a fantastic match against a quality opponent in Giorgi. The world number one had her fair share of struggles when trying to make a breakthrough on the receiving end but she served exceptionally well. She was only broken once - and that was when she held the double break advantage in the opening set, hit nine aces to just two double faults and won 86% of her first serve points. She was also 7/7 on net approaches, which is an impressive statistic to have against such a big hitter like Giorgi. Speaking of the Italian, she had her fair share of chances, but her serve failed her when it mattered most. Despite hitting seven aces, Giorgi hit twelve double faults and had a very poor first serve percentage of 45%. Like Giorgi, Williams also struggled with her first serve percentage despite cruising on serve, making 53% of her first deliveries. Williams will be looking to get a higher first serve percentage in the rest of her matches this fortnight as having such a low first serve percentage won't always cut it against a talented opponent. But all in all, it was still a very impressive performance from Williams' perspective for someone who hasn't played in four and a half months.
"I never do New Year's Resolutions," Williams joked when asked about what New Year's Resolutions she has. "I always break them."
"It wasn't very easy," Williams said. "She obviously plays very well. I think I was able to stay in it and stay calm and that's what matters."
Serena closes it out in style! She defeats Camila Giorgi 6-4, 7-5 in an hour and 45 minutes.
40-0: Another big serve from Williams gives herself three match points.
30-0: Another ace for the world number one - her ninth of the match.
15-0: Big serve from Williams.
Giorgi hands the break to Williams on a silver platter with her 12th double fault. The world number one will serve for the match up 6-5.
40-AD: Giorgi pushes a backhand wide. Break point for Williams. Can she convert this one?
40-40: Thumping return from Williams to push the game back to deuce.
AD-40: Giorgi uses her wide serve to set up an easy forehand drive volley put away, which she puts away in emphatic style.
40-40: Wow. Williams nets another return on a break point.
30-40: One saved. Williams nets a return.
15-40: Williams benefits from a lucky net cord and gives herself two break points. Can she convert one of them?
15-30: Big forehand return winner from Williams.
15-15: 11th double fault for Giorgi. Oh dear.
15-0: Big backhand winner right from the off from the Italian.
Big came coming up for Giorgi now. Can she handle the pressure?
The world number one holds for 5-5.
40-15: Williams uses her big serve and forehand to force an error out of her Italian counterpart. Two game points to regain parity in this second set.
30-15: Williams hits a backhand unforced error.
30-0: Giorgi nets a sitter of a forehand.
15-0: Stunning forehand angle from Williams to force an error out of Giorgi.
Giorgi holds for 5-4. Williams will serve to stay in the second set after the changeover.
AD-40: Seventh ace from Giorgi - this time on the second serve.
40-40: Williams misses the mark with her return.
40-AD: Stunning defending from Williams to get the first break point of the game.
40-40: Forehand unforced error from Giorgi and the game has now been pushed to deuce.
40-30: Backhand unforced error from the Italian.
40-15: Giorgi catches Williams flat footed by going out wide instead of down the T on the AD-side, consequently aceing the world number one for a sixth time.
30-15: Another big serve down the T from the Italian.
15-15: Great one-two punch from Giorgi to win the point.
0-15: Incredible return on the stretch from Williams. Her team is pumped.
Williams holds at love to level the second set at 4-all.
40-0: Some nice, sharp net play from Williams to give herself three game points.
30-0: Seventh ace from Williams to go up 3-0.
15-0: Backhand unforced error from Giorgi.
Giorgi holds; she is holding her own against the world number one. She leads 4-3, second set.
40-30: Giorgi nets a backhand cross court. She still has a game point on her racquet.
40-15: Williams nets a backhand down the line.
30-15: Incredible hitting from both women ends with a screaming cross court backhand winner from Giorgi.
15-15: Backhand unforced error from Williams.
0-15: Forehand unforced error from Giorgi.
Williams holds with some beautiful redirection of pace. She holds to level the second set at 3-all.
40-15: Second double fault from Williams eradicates the first.
40-0: Forehand unforced error from Giorgi gives Williams three game points.
30-0: Giorgi nets a routine passing shot.
15-0: Big cross court forehand winner from Williams.
Giorgi holds for 3-2.
40-15: Tenth double fault from the Italian erases one of them.
40-0: Another return unforced error from Williams gives Giorgi three game points.
30-0: Great serve from Giorgi out wide.
15-0: Return unforced error flies off of the racquet of Williams.
Williams hits her sixth ace to restore parity in this second set. 2-2.
40-30: Backhand unforced error from Giorgi to give Williams a game point. Serena is pumped.
30-30: Forehand forced error from the Italian. The American is starting to show more and more emotion.
15-30: HUGE forehand winner from Giorgi that caught Williams totally off guard.
15-15: Williams answers with an an ace down the T -- her fifth of the match.
0-15: Impressive net play from Giorgi. She shows her all court craft with a solid backhand volley winner past the world number one.
Giorgi holds for 2-1.
40-30: Great mobility from the Italian number four to give herself a game point.
30-30: Backhand forced error from Giorgi. Half a chance for Williams coming up now.
30-15: Big serve down the T from Giorgi. Williams has not been able to read that serve very well today.
15-15: The Italian loses the point with a backhand unforced error.
15-0: Giorgi hits her fifth ace of the match.
Williams holds. 1-1.
40-0: Big, kicking and unreturnable second serve from the American. Serena is pumped.
30-0: Fourth ace of the match from Williams.
15-0: Serena wins the point with a forehand winner.
Giorgi holds with another big serve. 1-0.
AD-40: Williams hits a forehand unforced error to give Giorgi a chance to escape. Serena looks rattled.
40-40: Beautiful cross court backhand to force an error out of Williams from Giorgi. She saves another break point.
40-AD: Fourth double fault of the game and ninth overall from the Italian.
40-40: Nice variation on the serve from Giorgi to save a third break point.
40-AD: What a forehand cross court angle from Williams! Second break point for the world number one.
40-40: Well played from Giorgi once again. She seems to always be able to put the world number one on the back foot under pressure.
40-AD: Eighth double fault from the Italian -- that's her third of the game.
40-40: Great serve from Giorgi.
40-AD: Backhand slice from Williams proves lethal as Giorgi makes another unforced error, giving the world number one another break point.
40-40: Giorgi is constructing the points well but she keeps missing the easiest shot of the rally. She misses another forehand putaway. Back to deuce.
40-30: Seventh double fault from Giorgi.
40-15: Big forehand from the Italian to force a backhand error out of the American.
30-15: Williams is caught flat-footed again; she's not moving to the ball to put herself in the best possible position to hit the return. She loses the point with a forehand unforced error off of the return.
15-15: Sixth double fault from Giorgi.
15-0: Forehand forced error off of the return from Williams.
Giorgi to serve.
Big, kicking second serve and Williams closes out the opening set 6-4 in 43 minutes.
40-15: Big serve from Williams to set up two set points.
30-15: Nice scrambling from Giorgi to force a backhand unforced error out of Williams.
30-0: Backhand unforced error from the Italian.
15-0: Forehand unforced error from Giorgi. She has tried to overpress a little too much in this opening set.
Giorgi holds. Williams will serve for the opening set. 5-4.
40-30: Nice pressure from Giorgi at the net, forcing Williams to hit a forehand passing shot into the net.
30-30: Another backhand unforced error from Williams.
15-30: Forehand unforced error from Giorgi after throwing all types of pace at Williams.
15-15: Backhand unforced error from Williams.
0-15: Fifth double fault of the match from Giorgi.
Beautiful redirection of pace from Williams to hit a big forehand winner down the line. She holds for a 5-3 lead.
40-30: Big ace from Williams out wide.
30-30: Another unforced error off of the return from Giorgi wipes away the advantage.
15-30: Forehand unforced error off of the return from the Italian.
0-30: Great point from Giorgi; she forced Williams into the net, lobbed her, forced her back to the baseline and hit a big backhand winner down the line.
0-15: Williams drops the first point of the game rather tamely.
Giorgi holds as Williams hits a wild backhand return unforced error. The latter still leads the former 4-3 with a break.
AD-40: Forehand forced error from Williams.
40-40: Golden opportunity for the Italian goes abegging; Giorgi misses a easy forehand putaway on game point.
40-30: Fourth ace of the match from Giorgi gives her a chance to reduce the deficit to just a single game.
30-30: Forehand forced error off of the return from Williams.
15-30: Williams' forehand clips the tape but was originally called wide, the American challenged the call and it was in.
15-15: Nice hitting from the Italian sets up a big backhand winner cross court.
0-15: Forehand unforced error from Giorgi.
Giorgi breaks! Williams still leads 4-2.
30-40: Williams overcooks a backhand to give Giorgi her first break point of the match.
30-30: First double fault and unforced error of the match from Williams.
30-15: Big backhand return down the line from Giorgi - Williams could barely get a racquet on it.
30-0: Second ace from Williams.
15-0: Backhand return unforced error from Giorgi.
Williams breaks again as another unforced error flies off the racquet of Giorgi. The American leads 4-1.
30-40: Fourth double fault from Giorgi gives Williams another break point.
30-30: Another solid return from the world number one. She is not backing down from her aggressive return position.
30-15: Third ace of the match from Giorgi - this time on her second serve - to equal the number of her double faults.
15-15: Forehand forced error from the Italian.
15-0: Big serve from Giorgi.
Serena is timing the ball so well right now. She holds for 3-1 with some powerful hitting.
40-15: Big serve from Williams. Two game points.
30-15: Backhand unforced error from Giorgi.
15-15: Forehand forced error from Williams. The world number one is having trouble with the sun on the North side of the court right now.
15-0: Backhand forced error from Giorgi.
Giorgi is broken at love with yet another double fault. Williams leads 2-1, first set.
0-40: Williams is showing no signs of rust so far; strong hitting followed by an inside out backhand winner.
0-30: Second double fault of the match from the Italian number four.
0-15: Big forehand return winner down the line from Williams.
Williams holds with an emphatic ace down the T -- her first of the season. 1-1.
40-15: Big serve from the world number one down the T to set up two game points.
30-15: Strong second serve from Williams to force another error from Giorgi.
15-15: Williams benefits from a net cord as Giorgi completely mishits the shot off the tape.
0-15: Big return off the second serve from Giorgi.
Giorgi holds to open the match with a big cross-court backhand winner. Williams to serve.
40-30: Another ace from Giorgi.
30-30: Good play from Williams; solid hitting to force a forehand error out of her Italian counterpart.
30-15: First ace of the match for Giorgi.
15-15: Big second serve from Giorgi spinning away from Williams, forcing an error out of the world number one.
0-15: Giorgi opens the match with a double fault - that will be a familiar sight today.
Giorgi will serve first.
Both players have made their way to the court.
The first match of the day on Rod Laver Arena between Petra Kvitova and Luksika Kumkhum has concluded, the former winning in straight sets. Williams and Giorgi will make their way to the court shortly.
The winner of this match will play the winner of the match between Hsieh Su-Wei and Jelena Ostapenko in the second round.
Williams and Giorgi have met twice before, with the former winning both meetings in straight sets. However, this will be their first match on a surface other than clay. For two players who hit the ball with such brute force, it is hard to figure out which player the quick courts of Melbourne Park favour the most. With that being said, Williams’ sensational record at the Australian Open speaks for itself in that regard, making experts believe that the surface favours the world number one over her Italian counterpart.
Giorgi’s best result at Melbourne Park came last year when the Italian made it all the way to the third round, defeating Flavia Pennetta and Tereza Smitkova before falling to Venus Williams in a hard-hitting three-set affair. If she is to better that result in 2016, she will have to overcome the daunting task of defeating top seed Serena Williams on day one.
2016 Australian Open First Round Live Commentary
Williams’ first opponent in her title defence will be big-hitting Italian Camila Giorgi. Giorgi, a 24-year-old from Macerata best known for her fierce hitting, possesses a game that can beat anyone when on a good day. However, due to her high-risk, high-reward mindset, the Italian is prone to an obscene number of unforced errors which can ultimately lead to her demise in the closing stages of a match. Unlike most players, Giorgi doesn’t have a plan B; she is a player who loves to rip the ball, but when they start to miss the mark, the 24-year-old doesn’t have a go-to strategy that she can rely on - she just doesn’t have one.
Following Williams’ withdrawal, doubts lingered surrounding the world number one’s supremacy in 2016. In a press conference on Saturday, Williams shut down any doubts surrounding her health, saying that she felt 130% ready to go for her first match of the week despite some minor struggles in practice.
After failing to win the Calendar Grand Slam, the world number one decided to end her 2015 season prematurely in order to recover and recharge from a series of injuries that she had sustained. After a long layoff, one might expect Williams to have fully recovered from her arduous 2015 season, but that was nowhere near the case as the world number one had to retire midway through her first match of the week against Jarmila Wolfe at the Hopman Cup, citing knee inflammation.
Now returning as the defending champion, the stakes are a little bit different - another championship run would not only win her her 22nd Grand Slam singles title, but it would also tie her with Steffi Graf in the Grand Slam singles title tally. However, Williams comes into this year’s Australian Open in a totally different situation.
Serena Williams - Camila Giorgi Live Commentary Of 2016 Australian Open First Round
It all started with a winning run at the Australian Open where Williams was forced to nurse a bad chest cold midway through the tournament. The severity of this chest cold weren’t as clear until Williams threw up just moments before stepping on court to play her fourth round match against Garbiñe Muguruza. Despite not being at her best, the world number one seemed to dig herself out of trouble time and time again with her big serve and unparalleled motivation to never accept defeat, defeating the likes of Muguruza, Dominika Cibulkova and Madison Keys en route to the final. In the showpiece, Williams faced Maria Sharapova - a rival she has dominated for the last decade. Despite Sharapova’s best efforts, history would repeat itself for an 18th time as Williams sealed her 19th Grand Slam singles title with an ace out wide, defeating the Russian 6-3, 7-6(5) in an entertaining, hard-fought affair.
World number one Serena Williams will make her official return to competition for the first time since last September, where she fell three sets short of the Calendar Grand Slam. 2015 was a big year in many ways for Williams, filled with more positives than negatives. The world number one ended 2015 with a sensational 53-3 win-loss record, pocketed $10,582,642, and three more Grand Slams to her credit - consequently completing her second “Serena Slam” (winning all four Grand Slams in succession but not in the same calendar year). Williams had her fair share of slow starts in 2015; 20 of the 56 matches she played went the distance, with the American winning 18 of those 20 matches. For most of the season, the 34-year-old was untouchable, and cemented her status at the top of women’s professional tennis without even needing to play a full season. By the conclusion of the 2015 tennis season, she was more than 4,000 points ahead of Simona Halep, the current world number two, on the rankings table.
Serena Williams - Camila Giorgi Live Commentary
Hello! My name is Max Gao and I am pleased to be presenting you with live coverage of the first round encounter between Serena Williams and Camila Giorgi from the 2016 Australian Open here on VAVEL USA. This match is scheduled to be played second after 11 a.m. Australian Eastern Daylight Time on Rod Laver Arena. Follow here for a preview of the match, as well as for point-by-point commentary.