Clock ticking as Williams returns to Australia looking for 24 Reuters

Friday, 05 Feb, 2021

"I feel like things are coming back to somewhat normal", said Sofia Kenin, the defending Australian Open champion, who won a three-setter Wednesday that was part of the Yarra Valley Classic.

The 24-year-old, competing in her first WTA event for nearly a year having chosen to stay at home in Australia when the tour resumed last summer, saw off Marie Bouzkova 6-0 4-6 6-3 to set up a last-eight date against Shelby Rogers after the American beat Petra Martic 7-6 (1) 6-3.

"It's really not about 24 or 23 or 25 it's really just about going out there and giving my best effort no matter what", said Williams ahead of the 2019 Wimbledon final. "I felt in the middle of the match I pressed a little bit. but I was happy to get the win on my terms at the end".

The Japanese star won the last major of 2020 in NY, arriving for each of her matches at the U.S. Open wearing a face mask bearing the name of a different Black American who had died as result of racial injustice.

Naomi Osaka stepped up her preparations for the Australian Open by powering past Alize Cornet 6-2 6-2 to reach the last 16 of the Gippsland Trophy warm-up tournament in Melbourne on Tuesday.

Six simultaneous tournaments makes Melbourne Park the true center of the tennis universe this week. The Australian Open is usually held in the southern summer holidays, but is being held three weeks late.

They were back again for Serbia's opening match against Canada, waving flags and chanting, but that kind of revelry was missing on Wednesday when the Canadians lost to Germany in the morning group match.

She didn't mind the extra work.

Barty will play Rogers on Thursday afternoon after the American world number 60 scored a 7-6 (1) 6-3 win over Petra Martic.

"Actually, in NY, I missed the crowd, but I was able to sort of just focus on tennis", Osaka said recently.

Australian Open favorite Naomi Osaka heads to Melbourne seeking a fourth Grand Slam title to further fuel her ascent toward the top of the women's game on court and amplify her voice off it.

The remaining schedule for all events in Melbourne is in question after a worker at one of the quarantine hotels tested positive for COVID-19. "I found my groove", said Kenin, who will play Garbine Muguruza next in a rematch of last year's Australian Open final.

Second-ranked Simona Halep had a more straight-forward 6-2, 6-4 win over Laura Siegemund.

Osaka will now face Irina Camilia Begu who upset Johanna Konta in a third set breaker. Two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka had a first-round bye.