Australian Open: Aryna Sabalenka makes ruthless start, Caroline Wozniacki progresses

Defending champion Sabalenka off to an outstanding Australian Open start.

by Dzevad Mesic
Australian Open: Aryna Sabalenka makes ruthless start, Caroline Wozniacki progresses
© Getty Images Sport - Julian Finney

Aryna Sabalenka has made an emphatic start to her Australian Open title defense as the Belarusian dropped just one game in her opening match at Melbourne Park. Sabalenka, seeded at No. 2, destroyed German qualifier Ella Seidel 6-0 6-1 to dominantly reach the Australian Open second round.

Sabalenka made a furious start to the match, breaking Seidel three times en route to bageling the 18-year-old in the first set. Sabalenka absolutely dominated the first set as Seidel had one just game point and no break points on the Belarusian's serve.

Aryna Sabalenka
Aryna Sabalenka© Getty Images Sport - Julian Finney

The second set started pretty much as the first set as Sabalenka claimed back-to-back breaks in the second and fourth games en route to opening a 5-0 lead. In the sixth game - when Seidel was serving to stay in the match - Sabalenka had two consecutive match points. 

At that moment, it looked like Sabalenka would beat Seidel without losing a single game. But then, Seidel won the next four points to win her first game of the match and avoid a bagel. 

In the following game, Sabalenka went up 40-0 to clinch three consecutive match points. But Seidel was still refusing to quit, saving those three match points. Sabalenka then earned her sixth match point - but Seidel saved it as well. Just after earning her seventh match point, Sabalenka was able to convert it and complete a two-set win over Seidel.

Aryna Sabalenka and Ella Seidel
Aryna Sabalenka and Ella Seidel© Getty Images Sport - Julian Finney

In her next match, Sabalenka plays against another youngster - 16-year-old Brenda Fruhvirtova.

Caroline Wozniacki joins Sabalenka in the Australian Open second round

Wozniacki, the 2018 Australian Open champion, also made a winning start in her return to Melbourne Park. Leading 6-2 2-0 against Magda Linette, Wozniacki progressed into the second round after the Pole retired the match due to injury.

Wozniacki, who retired from pro tennis at the 2020 Australian Open before coming out of retirement last summer, started the match by breaking Linette in the very first game of the match. In the fourth game, Linette managed to get the break back and tie the set to two games apiece. However, blowing an early break didn't impact Wozniacki, who claimed back-to-back breaks in the fifth and seventh games to win four games in a row and clinch the opener.

Caroline Wozniacki
Caroline Wozniacki© Getty Images Sport - Daniel Pockett

After winning the first set, Wozniacki also broke Linette in the first game of the second set before serving out the following game for a 2-0 lead. Linette then walked toward the net and shook Wozniacki's hand, retiring the match due to injury. 

In her next match, Wozniacki faces 144th-ranked Russian Maria Timofeeva.

Australian Open Aryna Sabalenka Caroline Wozniacki