IMAGE: Venus Williams celebrates winning her match against Arantxa Rus of the Netherlands during Day 1 of the WTA 500 Yarra Valley Classic at Melbourne Park, on Sunday. Photograph: Graham Denholm/Getty Images
Former world number one Venus Williams produced a vintage display to outclass Netherlands’ Arantxa Rus in straight sets and storm into the second round of the Yarra Valley Classic as a packed week of Australian Open warm-up events kicked off on Sunday.
The 40-year-old American broke serve twice in each set to canter to a 6-1, 6-3 victory in a little over an hour and set up a date with fourth seed Petra Kvitova in the next round.
American 13th seed Danielle Collins also had a straightforward outing as she eased to a 6-3, 6-3 win against Belgian Ysaline Bonaventure. She was joined in the second round by compatriot Shelby Rogers, who upset 12th seed Fiona Ferro 6-2, 7-5.
Australia’s Daria Gavrilova opted to skip karaoke night with a friend and instead made Slovakian Viktoria Kuzmova dance to her tunes, racing to a 6-2, 6-0 win in under just 65 minutes.
“I missed a big event with my friend Greg’s birthday and going to karaoke and I was pretty upset about that and thought I had to lock it in today,” said the 26-year-old, who faces 23-times Grand Slam champion Serena Williams next after the American received a first-round bye.
Also advancing was Czech Republic’s Marie Bouzkova, who downed home favourite and former US Open champion Samantha Stosur 6-2, 6-0.
Unseeded Romanian Ana Bogdan crushed Russian teenager Kamilla Rakhimova 6-2, 6-2 to set up a date with top seed Ash Barty.
The tournament is one of six arranged by Tennis Australia before the start of the Australian Open to allow players a chance of some match action after two weeks in quarantine hotels.
Ostapenko battles back to go through
IMAGE: Jelena Ostapenko rallied from a set down to beat Italian Sara Errani to reach the second round of the Gippsland Trophy in Melbourne. Photograph: Mike Owen/Getty Images
Former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko fought back from a set down to reach the second round of the Gippsland Trophy as a raft of Australian Open warm-up tournaments got underway at Melbourne Park on Sunday.
The 23-year-old Latvian initially struggled with her serve and posted six double faults in the opening set of her first match since October against experienced Italian Sara Errani.
The 13th seed, who like her opponent has just completed two weeks of quarantine in Melbourne, found her rhythm in the second set and ran out a 4-6, 6-3, 6-1 winner after just under two hours on 1573 Arena.
IMAGE: Estonia’s Kaia Kanepi survived a scare to beat Australian Astra Sharma in three sets. Photograph: Graham Denholm/Getty Images
Estonian Kaia Kanepi had an even bigger scare on Margaret Court Arena against Australian Astra Sharma, who was two points from victory in the second set before slumping to a 1-6, 7-5, 6-2 defeat.
French 12th seed Caroline Garcia had a more straightforward outing against local Arina Rodionova, winning 6-3, 6-4 to set up a second-round meeting with Timea Babos.
Top seeds Simona Halep and Naomi Osaka were given byes and will join the fray in the second round.
Anastasia Potapova thrashed fellow teenager Whitney Osuigwe 6-3, 6-0 to set up a date with Halep, while France’s Alize Cornet will play Australian Ajla Tomljanovic on Monday to decide Osaka’s first opponent.
Zheng Saisai, seeded 11th, was making her return to action after 11 months but was knocked out by Romanian Irina-Camelia Begu who came back from a set down to upset the Chinese 3-6, 7-5, 6-4.
Begu, who is 99 rungs below Zheng in the rankings, converted her third match point after a physical contest that lasted nearly three hours.