Angelique Kerber sent packing as Williams sisters advance

Former champion Angelique Kerber is out of the Australian Open, defeated in straight sets by American Bernarda Pera.

The 23rd seed, one of the players forced into hard lockdown prior to the tournament, limped through the first set and was beaten 6-0, 6-4.

Angelique Kerber lost in the first round.Credit:Getty Images

Kerber’s early exit came after Naomi Osaka and the Williams sisters enjoyed a safe passage through to the second round.

Leading Australian Open chance Osaka wasted little time in reaching the next stage as the 2021 Australian Open started to crank into gear at Melbourne Park.

The world No.3 beat Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-1, 6-2 in 68 minutes on centre court, validating her decision to pull out of her WTA lead-in tournament late last week once she had reached the closing stages.

“I was really nervous coming into this match,” Osaka said during her on-court interview.

“I just wanted to play well. Thank you everyone.”

Naomi Osaka breezed through to the second round.Credit:AP

The Japanese three-time major winner said players across the tour were adapting to the unusual lead-up to the first major of 2021.

“Physically … everyone, their body is shocked,” she said.

“[But] all in all everyone is happy to be here.“

Elsewhere in the women’s draw, Australian wildcard Kimberly Birrell was beaten by Canadian Rebecca Marino.

Birrell dropped her opening set to love, and spent one hour and 44 minutes on court, losing 6-0, 7-6 (11-9).

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