MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Victoria Azarenka's quest for her third successive Australian Open title took a little while to get going before she finally overcame a feisty Johanna Larsson 7-6 6-2 in their first round match at Melbourne Park on Tuesday.
The 24-year-old Belarusian looked out of sorts in the first set as the Swede ran her all around the court and scrambled effectively to put massive pressure on the world number two.
Larsson had two opportunities to serve out the first set when leading 5-4 then 6-5 only for Azarenka to break back both times, which saw the Swede's resolve melt away as the two-times champion won the tie-break 7-2.
Azarenka, who is bidding to become the first woman to win three successive Melbourne Park titles since Martina Hingis (1997-99), broke in the third game of the second set to take control and pushed on to seal the match.
She will face Taiwan's Hsieh Su-wei or Czech Barbora Zahlavova-Strycova in the second round.
(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury in Wellington; Editing by Peter Rutherford)