Updated: 01/14/2014 12:49 | By Agence France-Presse

Shining Wozniacki puts Azarenka in shade

Victoria Azarenka began her Australian Open title defence in stuttering fashion Tuesday, in contrast to former world number one Caroline Wozniacki who sizzled in the Melbourne heat.


Shining Wozniacki puts Azarenka in shade

Victoria Azarenka plays a shot during her women's singles match against Johanna Larsson on day two of the 2014 Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 14, 2014

The second seed struggled in the opening set of her clash with world number 91 Johanna Larsson before finding some rhythm to progress.

The Belarusian took an hour and 46 minutes to get past the Swede 7-6 (7/2), 6-2 as temperatures soared towards 43 Celsius (109.4 Fahrenheit) in a game marred by unforced errors and poor serving.

"Sometimes it can be tricky, you know, to find your range, as it was today a little bit," she said, admitting she still needed to work on aspects of her game.

"I'll just try to keep the things that have been working before, what I was working on in Brisbane and my off-season and just try to reproduce it more and more and be disciplined with that."

The heat played a part in her lacklustre performance with Azarenka expecting the roof of the Rod Laver Arena to be closed as the heat intensified.

"It's not easy. I thought they were going to close the roof for the second match, but, I mean, it's okay," she said.

"But I feel pretty good. Actually, I felt better as the match was going on than in the beginning."

Azarenka, who next plays unseeded Czech Barbora Zahlavova Strycova, is searching for her third consecutive Melbourne title, a feat last achieved by Martina Hingis between 1997-1999.

The woman she beat in the 2012 final, Maria Sharapova, plays a night match against American Bethanie Mattek-Sands, avoiding the scorching conditions.

Wozniacki illustrated how hot it was by revealing that she put a bottle down on the court and "it started melting a little bit underneath, the plastic".

Wozniacki dispatched Spain's Lourdes Dominguez Lino 6-0, 6-2 as she goes in hunt of a maiden Grand Slam title, with the final of the US Open in 2009 the deepest she has gone in a major so far.

The Dane, seeded 10, has struggled to revisit the highs of 2010 and 2011, when she finished both years as world number one.

But she is is determined to find more success, and said she was in a good place after getting engaged to golf star Rory McIlroy on New Year's Eve.

"I have achieved so much in my career already," she said. "But at the same time, when I go on court and when I play tournaments I want to win.  

"For me right now I try to focus on the Grand Slams. It's tough, it's never easy. You have to win seven matches. There's always going to be some tricky opponents along the way.

"But that's what I'm missing on my resume, so that's obviously what I would like to achieve."

Others safely into the second round included Spain's 16th seed Carla Suarez Navarro, French 25th seed Alize Cornet, courtesy of an early retirement, and Slovakia's Dominika Cibulkova.

Cibulkova beat veteran Italian Francesca Schiavone, who was playing her 54th consecutive Grand Slam. Only one woman in the Open era has bettered that total -- Japan's Ai Sugiyama, who played 62 in a row.

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