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Aus Open PHOTOS: Halep ousted; Wawrinka and Nishikori survive

Last updated on: January 16, 2017 22:08 IST

IMAGES from Day 1 of the Australian Open, in Melbourne, on Monday.

Stan Wawrinka

IMAGE: Stan Wawrinka celebrates winning his first round match against Martin Klizan. Photograph: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

Switzerland's Stan Wawrinka survived a scare from Slovakia's Martin Klizan on Monday, fighting back from a break down in the final set to move into the Australian Open second round with a 4-6, 6-4, 7-5, 4-6, 6-4 victory.

"It was a big fight tonight," 2014 champion Wawrinka said on court after the match. "[The comeback] came from fighting every day, on and off the court. It was a great atmosphere here and I am happy to be back. He was playing well, he was close to winning. It was a tough match."

It took the world number four more than three hours to subdue his left-handed opponent to cries of "Allez Stan" from the crowd in the Margaret Court arena.

For long periods of the match Wawrinka was far from his best with errors flowing from his racket.

But as a pink dusk descended, Wawrinka slowly found the range on his groundstrokes to move ahead, although the outcome remained in the balance until the final few minutes.

Klizan, who had chances to win the second set, looked favourite when he broke to lead in the decider but Wawrinka doggedly held on and broke from nowhere to make it 4-4.

In the following game he struck the 35th ranked Klizan with a ferocious forehand from point-blank range -- immediately jumping over the net to check on his winded opponent.

Serving to stay in the match Klizan had no luck with a challenge at 30-30 -- the replay showing Wawrinka's flashing winner had found a line -- and the Slovak bowed out when he netted a forehand on Wawrinka's first match point.

It preserved Wawrinka's record of never having lost in the first round of the Australian Open, although it was a close call. The Swiss will face American Steve Johnson next.

"For sure it's a big relief, especially when you're a break down in the fifth, 4-3, 40-15. So I'm really happy to get through," U.S. Open champion Wawrinka told reporters.

"I also know where I am right now. I think in general I'm playing well. I'm physically ready. Most important is to win. The next one is a different match, different day."

Top seed and World No 1, Great Britai's Andy Murray subdued Ukrainian Illya Marchenko's challenge to go through to second round of the 2017 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on Monday

IMAGE: Top seed and World No 1, Great Britain's Andy Murray subdued Ukrainian Illya Marchenko's challenge to go through to second round of the 2017 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on Monday. Murray won 7-5, 7-6(5), 6-2. Photograph: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Andy Murray dug himself out of a number of holes before defeating Illya Marchenko 7-5, 7-6(5), 6-2 to reach the second round of the Australian Open on Monday.

Top seed Murray conceded a 5-2 lead in a first set in which he landed less than half of his first serves, and was down 4-2 after being broken early in the second at Rod Laver Arena.

But the Briton rallied, yelling his way through the flat patches before finding his range in the third set as the shadows crept across the centre court.

Three-time grand slam champion Murray will next play Russian qualifier Andrey Rublev as he bids for a maiden title at MelbournePark after five defeats in the final.

Germany's Angelique Kerber hits a shot during her first round match against Ukraine's Lesia Tsurenko in Melbourne on Monday

IMAGE: Germany's Angelique Kerber hits a shot during her first round match against Ukraine's Lesia Tsurenko in Melbourne on Monday. Photograph: Thomas Peter/Reuters

Defending champion and top seed Angelique Kerber battled her nerves and faltered badly with victory in sight before finally overcoming Lesia Tsurenko 6-2, 5-7, 6-2 to reach the second round of the Australian Open on Monday.

The 28-year-old German was starting the defence of a grand slam title for the first time and initially struggled with her serve and the accuracy of her groundstrokes on Rod Laver Arena.

Once she found her range, however, Kerber proved more than a match for world number 51 Tsurenko, who was reduced to scrapping to save her serve and the odd pearl of a consolation point off her rasping backhand.

The German's nerves returned when Kerber was serving for the match, however, and the world number one started ballooning shots all over the place, allowing her Ukrainian opponent to break back for 5-5.

Tsurenko grasped her opportunity with both hands and broke the Australian and U.S. Open champion again after a marathon nine-minute game to send the match into a decider.

The third set developed into a battle of wills but Kerber grabbed the key break for a 4-2 lead before rattling off the next two games to set up a second round tie against compatriot Carina Witthoeft. 

America's Venus Williams reacts after winning her first round match against Ukraine's Kateryna Kozlova on Monday

IMAGE: America's Venus Williams reacts after winning her first round match against Ukraine's Kateryna Kozlova on Monday. Photograph: Thomas Peter/Reuters

At 36, Venus Williams is the oldest woman in the singles draw at Melbourne Park and seeded 13th for her open era record-extending 73rd appearance at a Grand Slam.

Like sister Serena, she rested up for the last couple of months of 2016 before returning at the Auckland Classic two weeks ago.

The American could quite easily have put the loss of her opening service game on Monday down to rustiness but instead gave credit to 22-year-old world number 101 Kozlova.

"She played amazing," Williams said.

"Hardly any errors, she played amazing defence. She didn't make it easy, so it's really satisfying to get past a player who's on fire."

When asked how she managed to keep beating players so much younger than herself -- Kozlova was born the year Williams turned professional -- the seven-times grand slam champion assumed the role of elder stateswoman.

Venus Williams reacts during her first round match against Ukraine's Kateryna Kozlova

IMAGE: Venus Williams reacts during her first round match against Ukraine's Kateryna Kozlova. Photograph: Thomas Peter/Reuters

"Well I know how to play tennis ... You know, I like to think I’m good at this," she said.

"She hasn't had the years that I've had yet. Se hasn't had the grey hairs that I'm dying, the wrinkles that I'm hiding. You're trying to make me feel old now!"

Williams next faces Swiss qualifier Stefanie Voegele, 26, or Japan's Kurumi Nara, 25, as she bids to go deeper into a tournament where her best finish was a run to the final in 2003.

"I'm always ready," she said.

"2017 is going to be a wonderful year, and it's been a wonderful start with this win and I couldn't ask for any more -- except a win in the second round, and third and so on."

Williams has not won a grand slam title since claiming her fifth Wimbledon crown in 2008 but said she still embarked on every tournament with the intention of winning it.

"I've not come all the way to Australia for kicks and giggles, I'm here to be competitive," she said.

"Each player in the draw has an unbelievable ability to play tennis. There are some that have won more championships than others, but it's because we know how to play this game, and it's pretty serious stuff for us." 

Japan's Kei Nishikori celebrates after defeating Russia's Andrey Kuznetsov to win the first round match on Monday

IMAGE: Japan's Kei Nishikori celebrates after defeating Russia's Andrey Kuznetsov to win the first round match on Monday. Photograph: Issei Kato/Reuters

Japan's Kei Nishikori won a marathon 3-hour-37-minute first round battle against Russia's Andrey Kuznetson on a baking Hisense Arena to advance at the Australian Open.

Nishikori gave the spectators a glimpse of his fitness in a gruelling 5-7, 6-1, 6-4, 6-7, 6-3 to go through to round 2.

Japan's Kei Nishikori plays a forehand during his gruelling first round match against Russia's Andrey Kuznetsov at the 2017 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on Monday

IMAGE: Japan's Kei Nishikori plays a forehand during his gruelling first round match against Russia's Andrey Kuznetsov at the 2017 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on Monday. Photograph: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

Nishikori recovered from an early wobble against his Russian opponent that vindicated his call to withdraw from an exhibition event last week to rest a hip injury.

The 27-year-old, who needed medical treatment late in the fifth set, will next play Frenchman Jeremy Chardy after the world number 72 eased into the second round when Spain's Nicolas Almagro pulled out with an injury.

American Shelby Rogers is congratulated by Romania's Simona Halep after winning her first round match at the Australian Open in Melbourne on Monday

IMAGE: American Shelby Rogers is congratulated by Romania's Simona Halep after winning her first round match at the Australian Open in Melbourne on Monday. Photograph: Thomas Peter/Reuters

Romania's Simona Halep became the first seed to be bundled out of the Australian Open on Monday when she was beaten 6-3, 6-1 by American Shelby Rogers.

Halep, seeded fourth, also crashed out in the first round at the season-opening grand slam last year.

The 25-year-old sought medical advice after the first set but was able to continue in the second though she appeared to be favouring her left knee, flexing it throughout the match.

Rogers, who beat former top-10 player Eugenie Bouchard two weeks ago in Brisbane, sealed victory in 75 minutes when Halep hit a backhand into the net on Rod Laver Arena.

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