Thanks for visiting the Australian Open Website. We can see you’re using Internet Explorer, and wanted to let you know that we will no longer be supporting this browser in future. We’d recommend you download a new browser if you'd like to continue keeping up with all of the latest tennis news!

Women's wrap: Gauff, Pegula, Raducanu ease through on Day 1

  • Dan Imhoff

Women's singles first round

Coco Gauff accepts a certain degree of pressure comes with the territory as a young American leaping out of the blocks in the shadow of a recently retired 23-time major-winning compatriot.

But after opening with a 6-1 6-4 victory over Katerina Siniakova, the 18-year-old said it likely paled in comparison to the pressure her second-round opponent, 2021 US Open champion Emma Raducanu, faced in the UK.

DRAW: Australian Open 2023 women's singles

Raducanu allayed any concerns an ankle injury sustained in Auckland had impacted her too heavily as she needed just 85 minutes to take down German Tamara Korpatsch, 6-3 6-2.

“Obviously she's gone through a lot of pressure, bursting on to the scene, I feel like probably more than I have experienced coming to win a Slam,” Gauff said.

“And especially I feel like being from the UK, being like the first British person to do something in a long time, probably is a lot more pressure than what I'm used to being an American.

“You know, Serena is retired now, but she was always the American that people looked to.”

Seeded 18th last year, Gauff had come unstuck against Wang Qiang at the first hurdle but 12 months on, she has grown into a noticeably more polished performer and arrived fresh from her third career title in Auckland.

Gauff, who reached the fourth round on debut at Melbourne Park three years ago, joked the bar the Williams sisters set was so high she did not feel any comparison was justified at this stage.

READ: Djokovic, Sabalenka, Gauff sound warning ahead of AO 2023

MORE: Raducanu, Tsitsipas, other stars gearing up for AO23

“I feel like what Serena and Venus have done is still at another level… It's very hard to, I guess, put myself in that position of feeling pressure,” Gauff said.

“Let's say Serena only won like two Slams, then maybe I would feel it a little bit more, but I think 20-something, I don't know, is a lot. So I'm just starting off with one. I feel like Jess (Pegula) and I are just trying to start with one.”

Pegula was the first seed to advance on the opening day’s play.

After guiding the United States to United Cup success in Sydney, which included a win over world No.1 Iga Swiatek, the third seed carried her hard-court form to Melbourne where she needed less than an hour to dismiss Jaqueline Cristian.

Pegula advanced 6-0 6-1 over the Romanian and now awaits Aliaskandra Sasnovich, who beat the youngest player at this year's tournament, Brenda Fruhvirtova.

As flawless and collected as she was on court, the American said it was a different story when it came to containing those pre-Slam nerves.

“Everything starts to bother me a little bit more,” Pegula said. “The strings start to bother me. Like certain courts I start getting very critical of all these different things going on.

“Honestly, I'm always like that, I think. I have just gotten good at, ‘OK, match day starts, none of that really matters. That's what I've gotten better at.

“I would say like the week leading up, I definitely get very hard on myself during practice.”

READ: Pegula’s path to the game’s elite

Greek Maria Sakkari was basking in the atmosphere of Rod Laver Arena at an event she has dubbed her “home Grand Slam” and her comfort on court was clear as she charged to a 6-1 6-4 victory over China’s Yuan Yue.

The sixth seed booked a meeting with 18-year-old qualifier Diana Shnaider.

“I mean it’s the first time I’ve seen the girl playing. She’s young, she’s very good. I was nervous,” Sakkari said.

“I feel like this court is slow but I like it. It’s the perfect conditions for my game. The hotter it gets the better it is for me. I just love it here. There’s nothing you can’t love about this tournament.”

MARIA SAKKARI: “I feel like I’m at home, especially in Melbourne”

Bianca Andreescu opened her third Australian Open campaign with a 6-2 6-4 victory over 25th seed Marie Bouzkova.

The 2019 US Open champion missed the entire Australian summer swing last year but has clawed her way back into the top 50 in the nine months since she returned.

The 22-year-old has the chance to pass the second round at Melbourne Park for the first time when she next meets Spanish qualifier Cristina Bucsa