Second set: Williams 6-0 1-1 Potapova* (*denotes server): A series of Williams errors invite Potapova into the contest at 40-15. These only serve to highlight the astonishing skill she’s displayed elsewhere, a reminder of which arrives with a rasping forehand winner to force 40-30. But Potapova holds! Finally, a game on the board for the teenager, after Williams hits a backhand a few inches long.
Second set: Williams* 6-0 1-0 Potapova (*denotes server): There’s a warm ripple of applause whenever Potapova wins a point, and stunned near-silence when Serena rips another of her many winners. Not sure if that’s awe, disinterest, or dislike from the RLA crowd, because this is a supreme clinic. Another service game passes in the blink of an eye, sealed with a unreturnable wide kicking ace.
First set: Williams 6-0 Potapova* (*denotes server): Potapova finds a couple of shots this game but Serena is playing near flawless tennis, and despite moving at what looks like half-pace she’s executing with awesome force. She seals the opening set to love in just 19 minutes with a backhand return winner that thunders across court like a fighter jet skidding onto the runway of an aircraft carrier.
I’m covering the action from a few miles east of Melbourne Park, and I just heard an almighty rumble of thunder. The storms are closing in.
First set: Williams* 5-0 Potapova (*denotes server): Williams holds to love. This is a mauling in mauve.
First set: Williams 4-0 Potapova* (*denotes server): We are in double-bagel territory here. Williams races to 0-30 then 15-40 with some scudding groundstrokes on both flanks. A double fault, featuring a foot fault, extends Potapova’s misery.
First set: Williams* 3-0 Potapova (*denotes server): Williams, top to toe in polka dot lavender, slides to 0-30, but then she gets to work, hitting groundstrokes that pop off the racket to secure four points in a row. Potapova already looks rattled, cursing her errors and directing pained expressions in the direction of her box.
First set: Williams 2-0 Potapova* (*denotes server): Potapova skips to 30-0 but some neat court craft from Williams and an unforced error from the server and the scoreboard is suddenly 30-30. A double fault followed by a thumping forehand down the line from Williams secures the first break of the match. An ominous start from the seven-time former champion.
First set: Williams* 1-0 Potapova (*denotes server): Serena comfortably holds her first service game of Australian Open 2020. This is her 19th visit to Melbourne Park and she arrives on the back of victory in Auckland recently, her 73rd professional crown.
Potapova has yet to make her mark in the seniors but she is a former junior No 1 and Wimbledon junior champion. Serena is, well, Serena. Universe queen.
Next up on Rod Laver Arena, the one, the only Serena Williams. The 38-year-old 23-time grand slam champion, against 18-year old Russian Anastasia Potapova.
Querrey does it! The unseeded American has ousted 25th seed Borna Coric in straight sets.
Denis Shapovalov (13) dropped the opening set to Marton Fucsovics but he has levelled things up in the second.
Borna Coric (25) received a horror draw when unseeded floater Sam Querrey was paired alongside him in the opening round and the American is now two sets up on show court two.
Elsewhere, Mackenzie McDonald remains in control of his contest with 30th seed Dan Evans.
It remains dry over Melbourne Park, which is perhaps a surprise given the forecast. Storms are still predicted to hit at any point.
“It was tough for me trying to control my nerves,” says Osaka on court afterwards with customary honesty. She then thanks the crowd for turning out – self-deprecatingly suggesting they didn’t come to see her play. She is as far from the cookie-cutter athlete as you could imagine in the modern era.
Osaka beats Bouzkova (6-2 6-4)
Second set: Osaka* 6-2 6-4 Bouzkova (*denotes server): A solid service game to see things off for Naomi Osaka. Far from top form but a solid hit-out to get her campaign up and running. The unforced errors will give her and new coach Wim Fissette something to work on but a banana akin has been sidestepped.
Second set: Osaka 6-2 5-4 Bouzkova* (*denotes server): All the momentum is with Osaka heading into a crucial Bouzkova service game and the Japanese’s relentless pressure from the back of the court starts to grind her Czech opponent down. A couple of precision serves from Bouzkova drags 0-30 to 30-all but Osaka then demonstrates too much power and too much timing with her groundstrokes to seal her third game in a row. She will serve for the match.
Second set: Osaka* 6-2 4-4 Bouzkova (*denotes server): Routine hold for Osaka.
Second set: Osaka 6-2 3-4 Bouzkova* (*denotes server): Osaka is starting to cut a frustrated figure out there as Bouzkova refuses to concede a point. Shots are being returned with interest but not all of them are hitting their targets. Not for the first time 30-30 feels pivotal – and this time it goes Osaka’s way – a mishit return loops right on the baseline in the backhand corner and the opportunity to break back immediately presents itself. Bouzkova gold plates it with a double fault.
Back on serve in the second set.
Second set: Osaka* 6-2 2-4 Bouzkova (*denotes server): Impressive returning from Bouzkova and she earns her first break of the match! Nothing flash from the Czech but she kept forcing Osaka to play ball after ball and that patterns of winners or errors eventually counted against her. A wry smile from the third seed, who is perhaps the most unknowable character on the circuit.
Second set: Osaka 6-2 2-3 Bouzkova* (*denotes server): Osaka leads Bouzkova 23-8 in terms of both winners and unforced errors. That means the match is being played on Osaka’s racket, but with enough inconsistency to keep the contest alive. This game is a case in point, winners and errors littering a comparatively simple hold for the underdog.
Second set: Osaka* 6-2 2-2 Bouzkova (*denotes server): Rapid hold from Osaka.