Posted by Barrie on Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Williams Sisters Breeze Through in Australia

Serena Williams began the defence of her Australian Open championship in fine form by crushing Urszula Radwanska 6-2 6-1.

The younger of the Williams sisters was only tested once on her serve, saving the only break point her Polish opponent forced upon her. Serena hit 26 winners compared to Urszula's 13, but the American will be looking to cut down the 27 unforced errors in future games. While it's only after one game, Serena is already playing high quality tennis compared to some previous tournaments where she has made slow starts.

The defending champion is a 4-time winner of this event although has never successfully defended her title. Serena Williams has won the 2003, 2005, 2007 and 2009 events, last year defeating Dinara Safina in the final. With Maria Sharapova's exit on day 1, Serena is even more strongly favoured to defend her title. Now 3/1 favourite.

Other serious challengers to her title are widely expected to be Kim Clijsters (defeated Valerie Tetreault 6-4 6-0) and the returning Justine Henin (defeated Kirsten Flipkens 6-4 6-3). Both Belgians are on the opposite side of the draw and are on course to meet in the quarter final. Victoria Azarenka is the strongest opponent Serena Williams could meet in the quarter final.

On the same side of the draw is older sister, Venus who came through her first round match today more comfortably that expected; defeating Lucie Safarova 6-2 6-2. Williams only hit 2 aces in this match, but the 34 unforced errors from her Czech opponent helped the American to victory. Venus Williams is 12/1 fifth favourite to win her first Australian Open championship this year.

Seeds Jelena Jankovic, Agnieszka Radwanska, Marion Bartoli, Sam Stosur, Francesca Schiavone, Nadia Petrova, Ana Ivanovic, Sabine Lisicki, Aravane Rezai, Alona Bondarenko and Carla Suarez Navarro all safety progressed through to round 2 today.

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