MELBOURNE, Australia — If anything, it was the insects buzzing around Rod Laver Arena that bugged Serena Williams the most.
The injured left ankle held up fine in her opening match Tuesday at the Australian Open, and even the near-midnight start time was OK. But the bugs?
“I hate bugs more than you can imagine,” Williams said after reaching the second round by beating Tamira Paszek 6-3, 6-2. “Like, they kept jumping on me. Yuck!”
The match started at 11:32 p.m., and Williams hit a service winner 79 minutes later to finish it off. Between points, though, she picked up and moved or shooed away bugs that landed on court, and two that landed on her back. A big one gave her a fright, making her hop as she tried to stifle a screech.
“I’m going to request not to play at night anymore because I hate bugs, except for the final. I heard it’s at night,” Williams said. “I’ll try to get used to them.”
Williams was playing only her third match since losing the U.S. Open final to Sam Stosur last September, so she admitted being “a wee bit tight.”
Stosur, the last woman to beat Williams, didn’t make the second round. The U.S. Open champion lost 7-6 (2), 6-3 to No. 59-ranked Sorana Cirstea.
Second-ranked Petra Kvitova won 12 consecutive games in a 6-2, 6-0 romp over Vera Dushevina.
No. 4-ranked Maria Sharapova won the first eight games of a 6-0, 6-1 rout of Gisela Dulko in her first match since returning from a left ankle injury.
Defending champion Kim Clijsters cruised into the third round, beating Stephanie Foretz Gacon, of France, 6-0, 6-1.
She could meet Daniela Hantuchova in the next round here, and has a potential rematch of the 2011 Australian Open final with Li Na in the fourth.
French Open champion Li advanced to the third round with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Olivia Rogowska.
On the men’s side, defending champion and top-ranked Novak Djokovic dropped an early service game before winning the last 17 games to beat Paolo Lorenzi, of Italy, 6-2, 6-0, 6-0.
American Andy Roddick easily defeated Robin Haase 6-3, 6-4, 6-1.
Andy Murray, runner-up the past two years, defeated American teenager Ryan Harrison 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-2.