World No.1 Angelique Kerber made a shaky start to her Australian Open tennis title defence, edging past Lesia Tsurenko in a roller-coaster opening round match here on Monday.
Kerber looked in danger of getting beaten in the final set. However, the German responded to the crisis magnificently, taking the final five games to close out a 6-2, 5-7, 6-2 victory.
“I have to say I’m really happy to be back here. Everything started here for me when I won my first Grand Slam here,” Kerber said after her match.“The first round is always tough, but I just tried to enjoy it as much as I could. I’m so, so happy to be in the second round.”
World number one Andy Murray fought his way into the second round even as several top players struggled in hot conditions on day one.
As temperatures topped 32 Celsius (90 Fahrenheit), Murray came through a two hours, 47 minutes test against Ukraine’s Illya Marchenko 7-5, 7-6 (7/5), 6-2. He fared better than women’s fourth seed Simona Halep, who was an early casualty, and Kei Nishikori and Marin Cilic, who were both taken to five sets.
Players draped themselves with towels packed with ice on a sweltering afternoon. Temperatures are set to rise further on Tuesday to a sizzling 38 Celsius.“I’ve never won here,” said Murray, who has

lost a record five finals at Melbourne Park. “I lost in the final a few times so I’m hoping to go one better this time.”
Halep is rated as the fastest player, male or female, over three metres but her usual zip was glaringly absent as she went down 6-3, 6-1 to American rising star Shelby Rogers.
Afterwards she said a knee injury had slowed her down as she succumbed in the Australian Open’s first round for the second consecutive year.
Venus Williams, the oldest player in the women’s draw at 36, also found herself with a fight on her hands but she came through 7-6 (7/5), 7-5 against 22-year-old Kateryna Kozlova.
Japan’s Nishikori, who says he is primed to win his first major title this year, came through a five-set battle with Russia’s Andrey Kuznetsov 5-7, 6-1, 6-4, 6-7 (6/8), 6-2.
Marin Cilic, the 2014 US Open winner, also needed five as he came from two sets down to dispatch Jerzy Janowicz 4-6, 4-6, 6-2, 6-2, 6-3. China’s Zhang Shuai, who made a surprise run to last year’s quarter-finals, had an easier time with a 6-0, 6-3 win over Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus.
Olympic champion Monica Puig stormed through 6-0, 6-1 against Patricia Tig and Jelena Jankovic, playing her 53rd consecutive Grand Slam, beat Laura Siegemund 6-1, 1-6, 6-4.

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