Melbourne, Australia (SportsNetwork.com) - Last year's runner-up Li Na and ninth-seeded German Angelique Kerber earned first-round wins Monday, while 2003 runner-up Venus Williams suffered an early exit at the Australian Open.
The fourth-seeded Li, who lost to two-time reigning champion Victoria Azarenka in last year's final, needed just 61 minutes to breeze past Croatia's Ana Konjuh 6-2, 6-0 on the hardcourts at Melbourne Park.
Kerber encountered a bit more resistance in her first-round matchup with Australia's Jarmila Gajdosova, but was able to bounce back from an ugly second set to claim a 6-3, 0-6, 6-2 victory.
Williams, meanwhile, jumped out to an early advantage against Ekaterina Makarova, but the seven-time major champion faltered down the stretch against the 22nd-seeded Russian, allowing Makarova to secure a 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 triumph.
In other first-round action involving seeded players, No. 18 Belgian Kirsten Flipkens claimed a 6-3, 6-0 win over Laura Robson, while No. 28 Italian Flavia Pennetta advanced with a 6-0, 6-2 win over Alexandra Cadantu.
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.