Battling Makarova adds Venus to list

Ekaterina Makarova completed a notable double in knocking Venus Williams out of the Australian Open in the first round.

Two years ago the Russian produced a stunning win over Serena Williams in the fourth round in Melbourne and this time she fought back impressively to beat Venus 2-6 6-4 6-4.

The American is, of course, no longer the threat she was, with age and ill health taking their toll, but this was definitely one that got away given she led 3-0 in the decider.

However Serena Williams was in a ruthless mood as she dispatched local teenager Ashleigh Barty for the loss of only three games.

Wild card Barty, 17, was given the toughest of assignments against the world number one and, not surprisingly, could offer little resistance under the lights on Rod Laver Arena.

Williams’ 6-2 6-1 victory took only 57 minutes as she eased through to a second-round meeting with Serbia’s Vesna Dolonc.

The shock of the day was undoubtedly former Wimbledon champion Kvitova’s 6-2 1-6 6-4 defeat by little-known Thai Luksika Kumkhum.

The 20-year-old has been steadily climbing the rankings, reaching 88, but there was nothing in her results to indicate she could pull off an upset of this nature.

Sixth seed Kvitova has been plagued by inconsistency since her Wimbledon-winning season of 2011 and made 40 unforced errors.

The Czech could offer little explanation, saying: “I really want to know what happened out there. Unfortunately I didn’t play well. I didn’t play my game that I really tried all off season to work on.

Meanwhile Novak Djokovic secured his first win under new head coach Boris Becker as Stefan Edberg made his return to the big stage.

Defending champion Djokovic made it 22 straight wins at Melbourne Park and 25 in a row since the US Open final last season with a 6-3 7-6 (7/2) 6-1 victory over Slovakian Lukas Lacko.

Becker’s great 1980s rival Edberg, meanwhile, took part in his first training session with Roger Federer.

The Swede, a six-time grand slam champion, has agreed to work with Federer for 10 weeks this season alongside the world number six’s regular coach Severin Luthi.


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