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    Unfazed by ankle injury, Serena Williams rolls to win

    Serena Williams tumbled to the court and needed a medical timeout in the first set for treatment on her right ankle.
    Rob Griffith/AP
    Serena Williams tumbled to the court and needed a medical timeout in the first set for treatment on her right ankle.

    MELBOURNE — Serena Williams tumbled to the court and needed a medical timeout in the first set for treatment on her right ankle. Once she got up, it was all over for Edina Gallovits-Hall.

    Williams routed Gallovits-Hall, 6-0, 6-0, in the first round of the Australian Open Tuesday despite the scary sequence in the first part of the match.

    The No. 3-ranked Williams is favored to win the season’s first major, rolling into Melbourne Park with 35 wins in her previous 36 matches, including titles at Wimbledon, the London Olympics, and the US Open. But the injury could be a significant setback as she seeks a third consecutive Grand Slam title.


    Williams said there was pain and swelling in her ankle and X-rays were an option, but she wanted to leave any decisions about treatment for a few hours. She gets a day off before her second-round match Thursday.

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    ‘‘Oh, I'll be out there,’’ she said. ‘‘I mean, unless something fatal happens to me, there’s no way I'm not going to be competing. I'm alive. My heart’s beating. I'll be fine.’’

    Williams said she’s overcome plenty of injuries in previous trips to the Australian Open, where she has won five titles.

    Defending champion Victoria Azarenka also advanced, overcoming a wobble in the second set to beat Monica Niculescu, 6-1, 6-4, at Rod Laver Arena.

    Azarenka is ranked No. 1 but has lost 11 of her 12 career matches against Williams, and knows how hard it is to beat the veteran American in any condition.


    ‘‘I heard she won love and love, so what kind of injury are we talking about?’’ she said.

    Azarenka’s win was sandwiched between matches on the same court involving two of the main contenders for the men’s title. No. 3 Andy Murray won his first Grand Slam match as a major champion, beating Robin Haase of the Netherlands in straight sets, and No. 2 Roger Federer fended off Benoit Paire of France, 6-2, 6-4, 6-1.

    With a packed program on the center court, Williams was playing on the second of the show courts.

    The 31-year-old American was leading, 4-0, after 19 minutes when she fell awkwardly chasing a ball wide on her forehand side, putting both hands over her face.

    She rolled from her back to her hands and knees, where she stayed for several minutes before she was helped to her feet. The 15-time major winner started limping before easing into a walking stride as she made her way to her court-side chair to have her already heavily taped ankle treated and then re-taped.


    ‘‘I think I was really, really close to panicking because a very similar thing happened to me last year, almost on the same side, the same shot,’’ Williams said. ‘‘So I almost panicked, and I thought, ‘I can’t do that.’ I just have to really remain calm and think things through.’’

    Williams won the first point after the medical timeout, approaching the net to hit a cross-court winner, seemingly unfazed by the ankle. She hit two more forehand winners to go up, 5-0, then called the trainer back to the court to adjust the taping on the ankle during the changeover. She had more treatment after winning the first set.

    Williams winced slightly after jumping to hit an overhead in the third game of the second set and called the trainer out again to re-tape the ankle during the changeover, leading 3-0.

    She dominated the second set despite the injury, allowing the Romanian player to win just 6 points.

    Murray beat Haase, 6-3, 6-1, 6-3, in the opening round and was asked what it felt like to play after his triumph at the US Open, where he became the first British man since 1936 to win a major title.

    ‘‘I can try and focus on the second part of my career now,’’ he said.

    Also advancing were No. 13 Milos Raonic of Canada, who beat Jan Hajek, 3-6, 6-1, 6-2, 7-6 (0), No. 17 Philipp Kohlschreiber, No. 21 Andreas Seppi, and No. 25 Florian Mayer.

    In a record for the Australian Open, 42-year-old Kimiko Date-Krumm upset No. 12-seeded Nadia Petrova of Russia, 6-2, 6-0, to become the oldest woman to win a singles match at the tournament.

    In other women’s matches, former No. 1-ranked Caroline Wozniacki won the last six games to beat Sabine Lisicki of Germany, 2-6, 6-3, 6-3, and No. 16 Roberta Vinci and No. 17 Lucie Safarova also moved on. American teenager Sloane Stephens beat Simona Halep of Romania, 6-1, 6-1.