Serena Williams’ quest for a record-breaking 24th Major title at the 2020 Australian Open began in the best possible way, showing no signs of nerves as she rolled to a comfortable 6-0, 6-3 win over talented rising star Anastasia Potapova in the first round. Playing in front of a packed crowd in the Rod Laver Arena, the American put up an excellent performance to triumph in just 58 minutes, booking her spot in the second round.
Blasting 24 winners to 16 unforced errors, Williams was completely dominant on her first serves as she conceded just six points behind them throughout the match. A one-sided opening set saw the 23-time Grand Slam champion sail through without losing a game but was forced to raise her level against an improving Potapova in the second set.
Nerves were inevitable for the Russian youngster on her debut in Rod Laver Arena, but Potapova was able to find some of her best tennis in the second set although it ultimately still ended in a straight-sets defeat. Nonetheless, it was a display full of positive signs for Potapova, projecting some big things ahead of her in the future.
Williams strolls to take the opening set
Contrary to her usual slow starts, Williams came into the match firing on all cylinders as her serves looked invincible. Although Potapova started her service game with consecutive winners, the Russian let nerves overwhelm her as the American quickly opened a three-game advantage within a blink of an eye.
Williams punished the vulnerable second serves of Potapova, with the Russian being forced to raise her level but ultimately overdone it as she threw in a double-fault to concede a double-break deficit. A devastating backhand return winner eventually sealed the bagel for Williams after just a mere 20 minutes of action.
Williams survives the tough test
Potapova finally got onto the scoreboard with the help of several loose errors from Williams, but from there the momentum seemed to have shifted hands. Playing with more freedom and going for her shots, the Russian youngster earned her first break points and grabbed the lead for the first time in the encounter as Williams served a double-fault on her second break opportunity.
Determined not to let her opponent run away with the set, Williams broke straight back before fending off another break chance to regain the 3-2 lead. The set was becoming increasingly competitive, a huge contrast to the opening frame. Potapova was able to keep the scores close, but Williams proved too strong as she snatched three consecutive games, serving out the match to love and setting up a second-round first-time meeting with Tamara Zidansek in the process.
This was the start Williams would have hoped prior to the start of the tournament, and she looks in top form as she looks to lift the title at the end of the fortnight.