Melbourne [Australia], Jan.17 : World number two Serena Williams began her quest to surpass Steffi Graf's Open era record of 22 Grand Slam titles with a straight-sets victory over her Swiss opponent Belinda Bencic in the opening round of the Australian Open here on Tuesday.
The 36-year-old, who lost her top ranking to Germany's Angelique Kerber last year, put on a solid display throughout one hour and 21 minute match to register a 6-4, 6-3 win over unseeded Bencic at the Rod Laver Arena.
Serena made the breakthrough first to earn a 3-1 lead, only to see Bencic bounce back and hold onto level terms until the all-important tenth game, when the American star surged ahead to beak for the set.
The second set appeared to be a foregone conclusion as Serena swept her opponent aside to take a 5-0 lead, but Bencic sealed one last comeback in store to narrow the gap to 5-3 before the world No.
2 earned a point to come out victorious. Talking about her opponent, Serena said that Bencic obviously had a lot more power than her, but she is glad to start the match well.
"I think it was pretty good.I mean, she's a really good player. So I think I was able to start out well.I feel like she's definitely has a lot more power. Obviously she beat me in Canada the last time we played, but I really don't remember much about that match," Serena said in a post-match conference.
Williams, who lost last year's final to Kerber, came into the opening Grand Slam of the year with doubts over her form as she barely played since the US Open last September due to injury.
With the win, Serena has now set up a second-round clash with Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic..