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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 24 February 2019

Serena Williams cruises into Australian Open second round to set up showdown with Eugenie Bouchard

American needed just 49 minutes to defeat Tatjana Maria as she begins her bid for a record-equalling 24th major title

Serena Williams was too strong for Tatjana Maria during their Australian Open first round match. EPA
Serena Williams was too strong for Tatjana Maria during their Australian Open first round match. EPA

Serena Williams made an impressive start to her bid for an eighth Australian Open title on Tuesday by thrashing unseeded German Tatjana Maria 6-0, 6-2 in just 49 minutes.

Playing her first grand slam since her infamous rant at the umpire during last year's US Open final, 37-year-old Williams seemed to have decided to move on from last September's incident that caused a furore across the world.

The American's preparations for the Australian Open have been limited, opting not to compete in any of the WTA Tour events leading up to Melbourne, although she did take on sister Venus at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi.

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Williams, who is aiming to win a record-equalling 34th grand slam title, showed she has lost none of her brutal power and athleticism in the match between the two mothers at Rod Laver Arena.

She peppered the court with her heavy groundstrokes and advanced to the net whenever she had an opportunity, losing only 24 points against Maria and she concentrated on being consistent and cutting down on unforced errors.

"It was nice to be back out there. Last time I was out there was a great moment, especially internally for me, it was even a better moment," said Williams, who was eight weeks pregnant the last time she played - and won the title - at the Australian Open. "I think it was a good match today."

Williams finished the match in just 49 minutes on her second match point when Maria sent a backhand wide, and the American will next play Canadian Eugenie Bouchard, who beat Shuai Peng of China 6-2 6-1.

"It will be a great match. She plays really well," Williams said of Bouchard, who reached the Australian Open and French semi-finals and the Wimbledon final in 2014.

"She does everything well, and I really like that she doesn't quit. You know, people write her off, and she doesn't let that bother her. She continues to fight and do what she needs to do. I think that's really not good."

Also comfortably through to the second round is Czech seventh seed Karolina Pliskova, who thrashed compatriot Karolina Muchova 6-3, 6-2, while Spanish 18th seed Garbine Muguruza produced a similarly efficient display to beat China's Saisai Zheng 6-2, 6-3.

There was one big upset during the women's day matches as 10th seed Daria Kasatkina from Russia was eliminated by Swiss Timea Bacsinszky 6-3, 6-0.

Updated: January 15, 2019 10:28 AM

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