Hot-serving Serena storms into second round
By Ian Ransom
MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Ruthless Serena Williams kicked off her bid for an 18th grand slam title on Monday with a 6-2 6-1 demolition of local wildcard Ashleigh Barty to advance to the Australian Open second round.
In ominous form after winning the Brisbane International warmup event, the American did not concede a point on her first serve under the lights of Rod Laver Arena and roared to her 23rd straight victory.
A former girls' champion at Wimbledon, 155th-ranked Barty has been touted as the future of tennis in Australia.
After ending a sequence of losing games, the 17-year-old raised her arms aloft in mock triumph when she held serve in the fifth game of the second set, sparking a rare roar from the crowd.
"I just think she's so cute," Williams told reporters. "I like her a lot. She's so young.
"I'd like to see her do really well. I think she has a game to do really well," added the world number one after setting up a clash with Serbia's Vesna Dolonc.
A five-times champion at Melbourne Park, Williams has not won the event since 2010 and was hampered by foot injuries in 2012 and 2013.
The 32-year-old appears in peak fitness this year and made a conscious effort to race to the net whenever an opportunity arose. Continued...