Keys into Aussie Open second round after beating local teenager

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MELBOURNE, Australia — In her first match of the season, against an Aussie on center court, Madison Keys made it seem straight forward as she advanced to the second round of the Australian Open.

The 2017 U.S. Open finalist beat 18-year-old wild-card entry Destanee Aiava 6-2, 6-2 in the first match on Rod Laver Arena on Day 2.

“I expected it to be tough – obviously playing an Aussie on Rod Laver. Thanks for the love, anyway,” Keys told the crowd.

She broke Aiava’s serve four times and fended off the only break-point chance she faced. Aaiva, who was the first player born in this century to play in the main draw of a major when she got a wild card here in 2017, didn’t help herself with six double-faults.

The No. 17-seeded Keys has reached the semifinals or better at three of the last five Grand Slam tournaments, and her focus is on the bigger prizes for now

“I was having issues with my knee at the end of the year (and) ran out of time to be ready for Brisbane – wanted to be 100 percent for here,” she said of her lack of competitive matches recently. “It’s my first match of the year, so mostly just happy I did everything pretty well.

Seventh-seeded Karolina Pliskova won the Brisbane International title in the first week of the season and continued her streak by beating fellow Czech Karolina Muchova 6-3, 6-2 to advance to the second round.

Pliskova, who beat both Venus and Serena Williams to reach the U.S. Open final in 2016, has made it to the quarterfinals at Melbourne Park for the past two years.

Serena Williams was playing Tatjana Maria later Tuesday in her first match in Melbourne since capturing her seventh Australian Open title in 2017. The 23-time major winner didn’t defend her title last year while she was taking time off following the birth of her daughter.

The temperature was already 30 degrees Celsius (86 Fahrenheit) when play began on all courts shortly after 11 a.m. local time and it was expected to rise by several degrees.