World number one and defending champion Nicol David won through to the second round of the HI-TEC Australian Open in Canberra but not before surviving a searching examination from Welsh qualifier Tesni Evans on Wednesday.
David appeared in complete control when she won the first game in a canter, but the 19-year-old Evans came out blazing in the second and attacked at every opportunity, winning the game to level the match at 1-1.
The Malaysian superstar regrouped to win the third then held off a charging Evans to claim a highly entertaining match 11-3, 8-11, 11-4, 11-8.
“I was working hard the whole match to win that one,” David said later.
“You can see what she can do with the ball, she’s a real talent. Every point counted, she didn’t give up any point easily. I just had to hang in there and stick to my game.”
David now takes on fellow countrywoman Low Wee Wern as she tries to win the Heather McKay Cup for the second year in a row.
Australia’s Rachael Grinham survived her own test against South Africa’s Siyoli Waters to move into the second round.
The fifth seeded Grinham had to call on all of her experience to see off the powerful Waters 11-8, 13-11, 11-9 on the glass court in Canberra’s Royal Theatre.
Grinham is ranked 30 places above the South African but that gap was hardly noticeable as Waters matched her more illustrious opponent in almost every department.
The Australian grabbed a narrow advantage in the first, then had to come back from 9-4 down to clinch the second in a tiebreak.
Grinham then gained a vital break in the third before holding off a fast-finishing Waters.
“I’d never played her before and have not really even seen her play, which is always a concern,” Grinham said.
“I didn’t know where she was going to hit the ball. She’s so strong and she’s got this big wind up, and I didn’t know where the ball was going.
“I’m always shaky in the first round so I’m happy to get off in three games.”
Grinham next plays fellow Australian Donna Urquhart in the second round after the tall left-hander from New South Wales beat Kylie Lindsay 11-7 11-3, 11-6.
It is the third year in a row that AIS training partners Grinham and Urquhart will have played each other at the Australian Open.
“It’s really frustrating for both because we’d like to see each other get further in the tournament,” Urquhart said.
“We’re friends and training partners, we’ve been training together in Brisbane for the last month and so it’s frustrating for us to knock each other out, especially in the Australian Open.”
Kasey Brown made it three Australians into the second round when she beat Denmark’s Line Hansen 11-6, 11-4, 11-2.
Hansen had won two tournaments in the lead-up to the Open but she was never in the hunt against 2006 champion Brown, who now takes on Joelle King of New Zealand, who won the title in 2009.
“The first round is nerve-wrecking for everyone,” Brown said. “I feel like I’m playing well, so to get through unscathed is good.”
Earlier, 2010 champion Madeline Perry of Ireland opened her campaign in great style as she demolished Malaysia’s Siti Munirah Jusoh 11-3, 11-9, 11-1.
Despite the closeness of the second game, Perry was always in complete control.
“That felt like two separate matches. I felt quick and in control at the start, but then she got going and she took me by surprise in the second,” Perry said.
“I kept looking for quick points to get back into it instead of being patient, then I took control again in the third.”
Second seed Jenny Duncalf survived a tricky first round clash against India’s Joshna Chinappa 11-7, 11-7, 13-11 to ease into the tournament.
“It’s great to see her back from injury,” Duncalf said. “She was probably the trickiest of the qualifiers. I’m pleased to win three-love obviously.”
Melbourne qualifier Sarah Cardwell fell just short of an upset when she lost in five games to 16th seeded Englishwoman Emma Beddoes.
Cardwell led two games to one but fell just short against Beddoes, who won 8-11, 11-2, 8-11, 11-4, 11-3.
Third seed Laura Massaro eased past Thaisa Serafini of Brazil 11-1, 11-5, 11-8, while 2008 champion Annie Au of Hong Kong thumped Scotland’s Lisa Aitken 11-5, 11-2, 11-2.
England’s Emily Whitlock upset 13th seeded New Zealander Jaclyn Hawkes 9-11, 11-6, 4-11, 11-9, 11-9, former runner-up Alison Waters downed 15th seed Delia Arnold 11-8, 11-6, 11-3, while US number one Amanda Sobhy beat 12th seed Joey Chan 11-4, 11-6, 11-3.