We all knew that Ekaterina Makarova was a tough first-round opponent, as the Russian made the quarterfinals of the Australian Open the last two years, even defeating Serena Williams in the fourth round in 2012, and now the elder Williams sister came her way right at the beginning of the tournament. The 22nd-ranked Makarova came back from losing the first set, almost trailing 5-4 in the second and being 3-0 down in the third to edge Venus, the recent runner-up at Auckland, 2-6 6-4 6-4. Luckily for her new EleVen clothing collection, Venus will play doubles with Serena this fortnight, so her tie dye prints will see enough Australian sun.
The surprise of the day, however, wasn’t Venus, but sixth-seeded Petra Kvitova, who got dumped by Thai world number 88 Luksika Kumkhum. Surely Kvitova’s new relationship with Radek Stepanek now comes to everyone’s mind! Kvitova mightily recovered from losing the first set, however, in the third set she was again lagging behind as Kumkhum led 5-3 and served for the match. Kvitova managed to break back, but then dropped her serve in the following game and the underdog celebrated 6-2 1-6 6-4.
British interest in the Australian Open has certainly plunged now, as Laura Robson lost her first full match of the season 6-3 6-0 to Kirsten Flipkens and Heather Watson gave 31st seed Daniela Hantuchova a hard time before eventually losing 7-5 3-6 6-3.
Australians can still be happy as Samantha Stosur advanced with a 6-3 6-4 victory over Klara Zakopalova, against whom she lost the Hobart semifinals just a few days ago, and Casey Dellacqua defeated Vera Zvonareva 6-2 6-2, who is on a comeback from injuries and illness and trying to win her first match since the London Olympics.
Also, Julia Goerges upset seventh seed Sara Errani 6-3 6-2 and Errani’s doubles partner Roberta Vinci, seed No.12, also went out, to Zheng Jie 6-4 6-3, while seeded players Angelique Kerber, Li Na, Ana Ivanovic and Sabine Lisicki advanced. (photo: © Neal Trousdale)