Ranked 48th, Gauff faces a tough second-round opponent in No. 5-seeded Elina Svitolina, who also won her opening match.
A year ago Gauff advanced to the round of 16 in her Melbourne debut, and that run included an upset victory over Naomi Osaka. Gauff also reached the round of 16 at Wimbledon in 2019, making a big splash in her first Grand Slam appearance.
American Jessica Pegula is building on her momentum from the end of last year, upsetting 12th-seeded and two-time former Australian champion Victoria Azarenka 7-5, 6-4 to advance to the second round for the first time.
Azarenka required medical attention on court in the second set when she bent over in the middle of the game and appeared to have trouble breathing. After a medical timeout, she managed to hold serve and break Pegula to level the match at 4-all, but then lost the final two games.
The 26-year-old Pegula had her best-ever result at a major at last year’s U.S. Open, where she reached the third round. She also won two matches at last week’s Yarra Valley Classic warm-up tournament before losing to defending Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin in three sets.
Azarenka, who won the Australian Open in 2012 and 2013, was one of 72 players who were forced into hard quarantine after arriving in Australia. She played just one match after being released in late January.
Seventeen-year-old Carlos Alcaraz of Spain was impressive in his highly anticipated Grand Slam debut match, defeating Dutch qualifier Botic Van de Zandschulp in the first round of the Australian Open 6-1, 6-4, 6-4.
The 141st-ranked Alcaraz, who has been compared to Rafael Nadal and is coached by former No. 1 Juan Carlos Ferrero, became the youngest man to win a Grand Slam singles match since Thanasi Kokkinakis of Australia defeated Igor Sijsling at the 2014 Australian Open.
Alcaraz said he was nervous before the match and didn’t feel very relaxed in the first couple of games. After settling down, though, he broke his opponent twice to take the opening set in 22 minutes.
“I’m very happy to (get) this win today in my first Grand Slam,” he said. “I try to enjoy, to play my game. I think I did it.”
Paula Badosa has lost her first-round match at the Australian Open after going through a three-week quarantine because she tested positive for COVID-19.
The 23-year-old from Spain, who is ranked 70th, served for the match but dropped the last four games and was beaten 6-7 (4), 7-6 (4), 7-5 across more than 2 1/2 hours by Russian qualifier Liudmila Samsonova.
Badosa already was in a hard quarantine — not allowed to leave her hotel room in Melbourne — after potentially being exposed to the coronavirus on an Australian Open charter flight. But then she tested positive for the illness on her seventh day in lockdown, and so needed to isolate for another two weeks.
She was allowed to play in the tournament after testing negative.
Badosa was born in New York but lives and trains in Barcelona and reached the French Open’s fourth round last year.
She led 5-3 in the third set Tuesday but faltered against Samsonova, a 22-year-old from Russia who is ranked 130th and entered the day 0-4 in Grand Slam tournaments.
Rising star Andrey Rublev of Russia has won his opening match at the Australian Open, beating Yannick Hanfmann of Germany 6-3, 6-3, 6-4.
Rublev won five tour-level titles last year, the most of any player, and his ranking is a career-high No. 8. At 23 he’s a three-time Grand Slam quarterfinalist who had his best showing in Melbourne last year, when he reached the round of 16.
Rublev hit 17 aces against Hanfmann and overcame an early break, holding serve the rest of the way.
Sofia Kenin’s Australian Open title defense got off to a bit of a rocky start before she righted herself and pulled out a two-set win.
The 22-year-old American trailed by an early break and took about 45 minutes to actually wrest some semblance of control before eventually beating 133rd-ranked Australian wild-card entry Maddison Inglis 7-5, 6-4.
Inglis never has won a tour-level match, falling to 0-6.
But she did not make things easy on Kenin, who nevertheless managed to avoid becoming the first woman since Jennifer Capriati in 2003 to lose in the first round at the Australian Open a year after winning the championship.
“First round, it’s obviously nerves for me,” said Kenin, who followed up her first major title last year by reaching the final at the French Open.
Kenin acknowledged with a chuckle that she was “not too happy with the way I played” but added: “A win is a win.”
Garbiñe Muguruza has won her opening match at the Australian Open, where she reached the final last year before losing to American Sofia Kenin.
Muguruza, a Spaniard seeded 14th, beat Margarita Gasparyan of Russia, 6-4, 6-0.
Muguruza improved to 9-0 in first-round matches at Melbourne Park. The two-time Grand Slam champion lost only 11 points in the second set.
Ann Li’s off to quite a start to 2021, moving into the second round of the Australian Open with a 6-2, 6-0 victory over No. 31 seed Zhang Shuai.
Li is a 20-year-old American who is ranked 69th and competing in only her third career Grand Slam tournament.
She needed just 47 minutes to win and improve to 5-0 this season.
Li is coming off an unusual accomplishment at a tuneup tournament at Melbourne Park last week: She shared the title of the Grampians Trophy with Anett Kontaveit because organizers decided not to hold a final so as not to wear out the players right before the Australian Open.
That warmup event was created for players such as Li who had to go into a hard lockdown after potentially being exposed to COVID-19. They were not allowed out of their hotel rooms for practice — or any other reason — during a two-week quarantine upon arrival in Australia.
Sofia Kenin begins defense of her Australian Open title when she takes on Australian Maddison Inglis to begin play at Rod Laver Arena. Kenin beat Garbiñe Muguruza in the final last year in three sets for her first Grand Slam singles title. Muguruza will be in action at the same time, kicking things off at Margaret Court Arena in a match against Margarita Gasparyan.
Rafael Nadal plays the final day match at Rod Laver Arena against Laslo Djere. This is Nadal’s first chance to grab sole possession of the men’s mark for most Grand Slam singles titles. He pulled even with Roger Federer at 20 by winning the French Open in October, beating Novak Djokovic in a lopsided final. Federer is still sidelined after two knee operations and is not playing here.
More AP tennis: https://apnews.com/hub/tennis and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports