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Iga Swiatek tested in Australian Open first round

Iga Swiatek tested in Australian Open first round

Top-ranked Iga Swiatek passed a test in her first match of the Australian Open, rallying past 2020 tournament champion Sofia Kenin 7-6 (2), 6-2 on Tuesday.

The American Kenin was broken while serving for the first set. Swiatek extended streaks to 34 consecutive sets won in the first round of majors and 17 match wins overall dating to Oct. 1.

Swiatek next plays three-time major champion Angelique Kerber of Germany (in her first Slam since 2022 Wimbledon after childbirth) or American Danielle Collins, who beat Swiatek in the 2022 Australian Open semifinals.

Swiatek owns four Grand Slam singles titles, but that 2022 run was her best in Melbourne. After regaining the No. 1 ranking by winning last season's WTA Finals, she can become the second active woman to win five Slams after Venus Williams (who is not in the Australian Open field).

AUSTRALIAN OPEN DRAWS: Women | Men

In 2020, Kenin won the Australian Open, was runner-up to Swiatek at the French Open and was named WTA Player of the Year.

"It kind of strikes me sometimes that my first Grand Slam final was against Sofia, and now we're playing in the first round," Swiatek said last week. "That's how our life journeys kind of went apart."

Kenin hasn't made a Grand Slam quarterfinal since 2020. Her ranking fell outside the top 400 in 2022. Missing four months to injury didn't help.

She clawed back in 2023, reaching three lower-level semifinals and beating Coco Gauff in the first round of Wimbledon. She was two spots away from being seeded at the Australian Open (and avoiding another seed until the third round at the earliest).

Later Tuesday, two-time major champion Carlos Alcaraz begins his Australian Open against 37-year-old Frenchman Richard Gasquet, the former world No. 7 who this week fell out of the top 100 for the first time in 19 years.