The 2024 Australian Open got underway with play beginning on a Sunday for the first time in tournament history. Among the winners from the 16 matches contested were defending champion Aryna Sabalenka, eighth seed Maria Sakkari and ninth seed Barbora Krejcikova.
Qualifiers Brenda Fruhvirtova and Alina Korneeva made history as the first pair of 16-year-olds to reach the second round of a Grand Slam since 2007 and the first time it's happened in Melbourne since 2005.
Sabalenka drops ine game in opening-round domination
Back at the site of her first major title, second-seeded Sabalenka crushed German teenager Ella Seidel 6-0, 6-1, who was making her Grand Slam debut.
Needing just 22 minutes to take the opening set, the Belarusian became the third defending women's champion to begin her title defense with a 6-0 set.
Taking the second set with the loss of just a single game, Sabalenka sent a stern warning to the rest of the field in her bid to become the first player since to repeat as champion in Melbourne.
Sakkari eases past Hibino, Krejcikova struggles to put away Hontama
For the eighth-seed Greek, she needed 71 minutes to dismiss Nao Hibino 6-4, 6-1 improved to 4-0 on the season for the first time since 2021 after winning all three matches at last week's United Cup.
Krejcikova, looking to add a singles title Down Under to her three women's doubles titles and two mixed crowns, was made to work hard for her 2-6, 6-4, 6-3 victory over Mai Hontama.
The Japanese wild card won the last five games of the first set before Krejcikova struck back, taking a second set that saw seven of the ten games won by the returner.
After dropping the opening game of the decider, the Czech closed strong, winning six of the final eight games.
"I'm really happy with the way how I was able to turn around the second set", the ninth seed said. "I think the second set was maybe the key, and then I feel in the third, definitely the break at 4-3 was the key to get the win."
Also victorious were 28th seed Lesia Tsurenko, a three-set winner over Lucia Bronzetti and 32nd seed Leylah Fernandez, who knocked out Czech qualifier Sara Bejlek 7-6 (5), 6-2.
Samsonova, Linette, Wang seeds that tumble out on opening day
In just her second event back after missing seven months last year, the American isn't satisfied with picking up just one win after reaching the second round in Auckland two weeks ago.
"Of course, i'm happy with the win, but I expect a lot out of myself", she said. "Win or lose, I don't think it would really matter to me. If I lost, then I would just go back to training.
"I'm just here for the journey right now and seeing how much I can progress. I think I would take it with whatever outcome I would get. But I am happy with the wins, and I really hope that I can build on from it."
Magda Linette, a semifinalist last year, was forced to retire with a leg injury as the 20th seed was trailing Caroline Wozniacki 6-2, 2-0 while 30th seed Xinyu Wang was a three-set loser to Frenchwoman Diane Parry.
Fruhvirtova, Korneeva write name in history books with first-round victories
With Sabalenka awaiting in the next round, Fruhvirtova is determined to enjoy the experience regardless of the outcome.
"It will be a great experience no matter who wins", said the world number said. "But i'm really looking forward to the next round, and hopefully I will get some big court or bigger than today."
Korneeva won the junior Girls title in Melbourne last year and is not concerned about how old she may be.
"I think everybody, it doesn't matter what age you are, you just try to do everything on the court that you can, on the match, and that's all. Of course you do everything on the court and if you do everything on the practice, the result will be, and that's all.
"It doesn't matter what age you are."
Russians dominate as trio of wins make it five into round two
Fruhvirtova and Korneeva's compatriots Maria Timofeeva, Kamilla Rakhimova and Elina Avanesyan also moved on to round two as Timofeeva dominated Alize Cornet 6-2, 6-4, Rakhimova defeated EEmina Bektas 6-4, 6-4 and Avanesyan rallied past Zhuoxuan Bai 4-6, 7-5, 6-2.
A pair of Americans also advanced with Caroline Dolehide a 6-2, 6-4 winner over Leolia Jeanjean and Alycia Parks taking out Daria Snigur 2-6, 6-2, 6-4.
Tamara Korpatsch is Krejcikova's next opponent after the German scored a 2-6, 6-3, 6-0 win over Jodie Burrage.