Australian Open: Angelique Kerber suffers big scare against Carina Witthoeft

Kerber needed three sets in her first-round triumph over Lesia Tsurenko and was taken the distance again by compatriot Carina Witthoeft before winning through 6-2 6-7 (3-7) 6-2.

Angelique Kerber celebrated her 29th birthday in style as the Rod Laver Arena crowd serenaded her after a hard-fought win over Carina Witthoeft.

With a run of 11 straight points going against her, Kerber found herself down an early break in the deciding set before steadying to reel off six of the last seven games.

She will next play the victor of Wednesday's second-round match between Kristyna Pliskova and Irina-Camelia Begu. But at the end, I'm happy that I won the match. Williams said. "I've played some of the greats".

Ranked 89, Witthoeft was pushed around the baseline by the left-hander but some unusually wild shots from Kerber handed her break opportunities, one of which she grabbed to level the match.

'I'm 29 so I'm getting older but I think I will have a great day today'. "It was not so easy", said Kerber.

Both players exchanged breaks through the first three games, and it was Kerber who held serve first for the 3-1 lead, and went on to win the opener 6-2. Muguruza, the seventh seed, clinched the match on her first match point when Crawford netted a forehand. The first set brought a real feast of breaks, with 5 in 6 games in the middle of the set, Svitolina stole rival's serve 3 times in succession and claimed the opener by 6-4, with a love service game.

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Women's 10th seed Carla Suarez Navarro was the highest casualty in that bracket, falling to Sorana Cirstea in straight sets, 7-6 (1), 6-3.

Twelfth seed and 2008 finalist, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, also progressed from the second round by beating Dusan Lajovic 6-2, 6-2, 6-3.

In the second set, serving and with a game point, she chased the ball like a teenager from one side of the court to the other, and back, trying to finish off. "I will look forward to playing against her".

There was better news for Venus Williams, a 6-3 6-2 victor over Stefanie Voegele, and French Open title-holder Garbine Muguruza, who defeated Samantha Crawford 7-5 6-4.

The Williams sisters were set to play Timea Babos and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in a Show Court 2 match on Wednesday afternoon.

Alison Riske beat 20 seed Shuai Zhang 7-6 (7), 4-6, 6-1 to reach the third round in Melbourne for the second time in her career.

  • Tabitha Byrd