Melbourne: Top-seeded Simona Halep overcame an injured left ankle to beat Australian wildcard entry Destanee Aiava 7-6 (5), 6-1 while Stan Wawrinka battled past Ricardas Berankis in the first round of the Australian Open.
Halep, who recovered from a 5-2 deficit in the first set, was moving across the baseline in the third game of the second set when her left foot caught on the court surface and she twisted her ankle, tumbling to the ground.
After an injury timeout to have her foot heavily taped, Halep returned to the court and had little trouble finishing off the 17-year-old Australian.
Aiava had the distinction of becoming the first player born in this century to play in the main draw of a Grand Slam tournament when she competed here in 2017.
Wawrinka struggled at times in his first match since last year's Wimbledon but held on to beat Lithuania's Berankis 6-3, 6-4, 2-6, 7-6 (2) in the first round of the Australian Open.
The 2014 champion only connected on 50 percent of his first serves and was broken four times in the match. He also looked physically spent toward the end of the fourth set before rallying to dominate the tiebreaker and close out the match.
Wawrinka underwent surgery on his left knee after Wimbledon and didn't play another match in 2017. He delayed his comeback at the start of this season by pulling out of a couple exhibitions before the Australian Open and made a last-minute decision to take part in the tournament.
"I'm proud to be back already," he said after his match. "Honestly, to win today, it means a lot to me."
The ninth-seeded Swiss player is also playing without a coach after splitting with long-time coach Magnus Norman in October.
Six-time champion Novak Djokovic also advanced to the second round of the Australian Open for the 12th consecutive year, beating American Donald Young 6-1, 6-2, 6-4.
Young didn't go out without a fight, however, saving four match points on his serve in the ninth game of the final set before Djokovic served out the match in the next game.
The 14th-seeded Djokovic was playing his first official tournament match since a six-month layoff after a right elbow injury kept him off the circuit since Wimbledon, where he lost in the quarterfinals.
He appeared to not be affected by any elbow issues during the Margaret Court Arena match.
Published Date: Jan 16, 2018 13:18 PM | Updated Date: Jan 16, 2018 13:18 PM