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Serena, Li cruise; Venus, Kvitova, Errani out at Aussie Open

Serena Williams and Li Na were easy winners Monday at the 2014 Australian Open, but there were plenty of top women shown an early exit from the year's first Grand Slam.

Melbourne, Australia (SportsNetwork.com) - Serena Williams and Li Na were easy winners Monday at the 2014 Australian Open, but there were plenty of top women shown an early exit from the year's first Grand Slam.

Venus Williams, Petra Kvitova and Sara Errani were eliminated on the first day of play at Melbourne Park.

Serena Williams, this year's top seed and a five-time Aussie Open winner, had little trouble in a 6-2, 6-1 rout of Ashleigh Barty, while the fourth-seeded Li also cruised with a 6-2, 6-0 pounding of Croatia's Ana Konjuh.

Barty provided little resistance to the world's top-ranked player. Serena, who opened her 2014 campaign with a title at the season-opener in Brisbane, needed a mere 57 minutes to advance.

"It's good to get through that match," said Serena. "Could be potentially a dangerous opponent. She's really good. I'm just happy to finish that one."

Serena ripped off 31 winners compared to just five for Barty, who never came close to a break point opportunity. Serena won all but six of the 34 points played on her own serve.

"I think Serena really showed why she's one of the greatest champions of all time," said an awed Barty. "She's just such a great champion. Just the presence she has on the court is unbelievable. It was just awesome to have the opportunity to play against her tonight. I learned a few things. It's going to be a really good experience for me moving forward."

Li, last year's runner-up to two-time reigning champion Victoria Azarenka, won in just 61 minutes. The Chinese star also opened her campaign with a title, claiming the crown at the Shenzhen Open for the second consecutive year earlier this month.

Venus Williams, the runner-up to Ana Ivanovic in Auckland earlier this month, was knocked out by Russia's Ekaterina Makarova. The 22nd seed rallied for a 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 triumph, sending the seven-time Grand Slam champion home in the first round of this event for the second time. Venus, whose best showing in Melbourne was a runner-up to her sister in 2003, was also bounced in the first round of this championship in 2006.

The bigger surprises of the day, however, were losses for the sixth-seeded Kvitova and seventh-seeded Errani.

Thailand's Luksika Kumkhum provided the upset of Kvitova with a 6-2, 1-6, 6-3 verdict, while capable German Julia Goerges thumped Errani in a 6-3, 6-2 decision.

Kvitova, who lost in the second round last year after a semifinal appearance in 2012, was unable to explain her disappointing effort against the 87th- ranked player in the world.

"I really wanted to know what happened out there," the former Wimbledon champ stated. "I didn't play well. I didn't play my game. I was really excited to be here, feeling good. But I think that probably I wanted too much, and then everything just fell (apart)."

Errani's loss wasn't as stunning, since Goerges was ranked as high No. 15 in the world. Goerges is now 73rd and twice has reached the fourth round at the Australian Open.

"I'm an aggressive player and I didn't miss a lot today," said Goerges.

Errani, meanwhile, was knocked out of the Australian Open in the first round for the second straight year and watched her Italian countrymate Roberta Vinci lose on Monday as well. China's Zheng Jie dumped the 12th-seeded Vinci, 6-4, 6-3.

Other seeded winners Monday included Germany's Angelique Kerber, Ivanovic, Sabine Lisicki and Samantha Stosur.

The ninth-seeded Kerber claimed a 6-3, 0-6, 6-2 win over Australia's Jarmila Gajdosova, while the 14th-seeded Ivanovic posted a 6-4, 6-4 victory over Dutchwoman Kiki Bertens. Lisicki, seeded 15th, cruised to a 6-2, 6-1 triumph over Croatia's Mirjana Lucic-Baroni and the 17th-seeded Stosur got off to a good start on home soil with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Klara Zakopalova of the Czech Republic.

Stosur has had plenty of trouble at her home Slam. The Brisbane native and former U.S. Open champ has never been past the fourth round in eight previous trips to Melbourne.

No. 18 Belgian Kirsten Flipkens claimed a 6-3, 6-0 win over Laura Robson and 26th-seeded Czech Lucie Safarova downed Julia Glushko by a 7-5, 3-6, 6-1 margin.

No. 28 Italian Flavia Pennetta advanced with a 6-0, 6-2 win over Alexandra Cadantu, 30th-seeded Canadian Eugenie Bouchard bounced Hao Chen Tang with a 7-5, 6-1 decision and Slovakian Daniela Hantuchova, the 31st seed, earned a hard-fought 7-5, 3-6, 6-3 victory over Heather Watson.

Also on Monday, Karolina Pliskova claimed a 6-0, 6-1 win over Pauline Parmentier, qualifier Belinda Bencic bested Kimiko Date-Krumm 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, American Irina Falconi notched a 6-3, 6-1 win over Anabel Medina Garrigues, and Lucie Hradecka registered a 6-3, 6-1 victory over Donna Vekic.

In other unseeded action, Alla Kudryavtseva downed Caroline Garcia 6-2, 7-6 (9-7), Monica Puig picked up a 6-2, 6-4 win over Anna Tatishvili, and Australian wild card Casey Dellacqua advanced with a 6-2, 6-2 victory over Vera Zvonareva.

Other players picking up first-round victories Monday included American Madison Keys, Germany's Annika Beck and Mona Barthel, France's Virginie Razzano, Serbian Vesna Dolonc and Romanian Monica Niculescu.

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