Australian Open: Victoria Azarenka wins 1st-round match

Azarenka powered to a 4-0 lead in the opening set over Niculescu, who is winless in singles tournaments on the WTA Tour.

updated: January 15, 2013 10:58 IST
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Melbourne: World number one Victoria Azarenka kicked off her Australian Open title defence with a hard-fought straight sets win against Romania's Monica Niculescu on Tuesday.

The Belarusian top seed, who beat Maria Sharapova in the final last year, is defending a Grand Slam title for the first time and overcame some second set defiance from Niculescu to ease through 6-1, 6-4 minutes.

The 23-year-old won six WTA titles in 2012 but she was forced to withdrew from this month's Brisbane International with an infected big toe, hampering her Grand Slam build-up, but she showed little effect on Rod Laver Arena.

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