Australian Open top seed Iga Swiatek overcomes tricky Jule Niemeier test

Iga Swiatek was relieved after surviving a tight first-round tussle with Jule Niemeier at Melbourne Park.

The world number one and heavy Australian Open favourite was 5-3 down in the second set against German Niemeier before fighting back to triumph 6-4 7-5.

“For sure I’m happy I was able to come back in the second set and break back,” said Swiatek, who had to recover from a set down against the same opponent in the fourth round of the US Open.

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“That was an important moment, for sure. But it’s the beginning of the season, first match of the first grand slam. So it’s always tough. Jule is not an easy opponent, so I’m happy I’m through and going to be able to play more matches here.

“My goal for the next matches is not being in those situations and not starting the set with losing a break. But it happens.”

Swiatek has established herself as the dominant force in women’s tennis following the retirements of Serena Williams and reigning champion Ashleigh Barty.

The 21-year-old admitted the expectation that she will win every match weighs heavily.

“For sure I feel the expectations, that people a little bit they want to take for granted that I’m going to win those first rounds,” she said.

“It’s always not easy. Every match is a different story. You have to really work hard to make it done.

“I just wish that some people would understand a little bit more how it is to compete every week of your life basically. You just have to deal with that. Maybe it will be a little bit easier if there were less people that are judging.”

Swiatek is not as comfortable yet on hard courts as on her favoured clay and was in tears after losing to American number one Jessica Pegula at the United Cup last weekend.

Third seed Pegula is the woman in form to start the season as she chases her first grand slam title and she swept to a 6-0 6-1 victory over Jaqueline Cristian.

She plans to be as ruthless as possible, saying: “It definitely gives me a lot of confidence. I think winning matches like that, knowing I’m playing really focused every single point and not letting any points or games go to waste, I think that helps your game a lot.”

Jessica Pegula swept into the second round
Jessica Pegula swept into the second round (Dita Alangkara/AP)

Coco Gauff also looked strong in a 6-1 6-4 victory over Katerina Siniakova to set up a clash with Emma Raducanu while sixth seed Maria Sakkari defeated Yuan Yue 6-1 6-4.

The match between the only two former champions in the women’s draw went the way of Victoria Azarenka, who defeated Sofia Kenin 6-4 7-6 (3).

Last year’s runner-up Danielle Collins, who is battling a knee problem, survived a very tight encounter against Anna Kalinskaya, coming through 7-5 5-7 6-4, while there were also victories for Madison Keys, Petra Kvitova and Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina, again exiled to an outside court.

Two seeds went out – 25th seed Marie Bouzkova losing to a resurgent former US Open champion Bianca Andreescu while Amanda Anisimova, who made the fourth round last year, fell to Ukraine’s Marta Kostyuk.