Top seed Iga Swiatek survived a tough examination while Jessica Pegula and teenage prodigy Coco Gauff were both emphatic winners on the first day of action.
Swiatek was far from her fluent best against Jule Niemeier but got the job done, 6-4, 7-5. The Pole, who is chasing an Australian Open crown to go with major titles at the US Open and Roland Garros, plays Camila Osorio of Colombia next.
In-form Pegula blitzed 161st-ranked Romanian Jaqueline Cristian 6-0, 6-1 in a 59-minute romp to signal her intent.
Fellow American Gauff was equally explosive in racing into the second round with a 6-1, 6-4 thumping of Czech Katerina Siniakova.
The 18-year-old Gauff now faces a mouth-watering encounter against former US Open champion Emma Raducanu.
It will be the first-ever meeting between Gauff and the 20-year-old Raducanu, two rising stars of women’s tennis.
“I’m really looking forward to this match,” Raducanu said.
“I’m very up for it. Coco has obviously done a lot of great things and she’s playing well.
“I think we’re both good, young players, we’re both coming through – part of the next generation of tennis really – it’s going to be a great match.”
Also safely through was another American, Danielle Collins, last year’s beaten finalist in Melbourne.
Greek sixth seed Maria Sakkari also won and Victoria Azarenka defeated Sofia Kenin in a battle of two former Australian Open champions.
But two seeds fell at the first hurdle, 25th-seeded Czech Marie Bouzkova and American 28th seed Amanda Anisimova.
Swiatek: ‘Don’t have to feel 100 percent to win’
World number one Swiatek said she needed to find some extra “intensity” to go deep at the Australian Open after surviving a tough first-round examination.
The 2022 French and US Open champion was far from the fluent best that took her to a 37-match win streak last season, needing an hour and 59 minutes to see off Jule Niemeier 6-4, 7-5 on Rod Laver Arena.
Swiatek is looking to win the Australian Open for the first time but after edging a tight first set, found herself 5-3 down in the second before coming through against the German world number 69.
Swiatek, who made her Australian Open debut in 2019, admitted she needed to increase her focus and had not been at her best.
“I was happy I was able to come back in that second set and break back. That was an important moment, for sure,” the Polish top seed and hot favourite told reporters at Melbourne Park.
“First match of a first Grand Slam. So always tough. Jule is not an easy opponent, so I’m happy I’m through and going to be able to play more matches here.”
The first set had been deadlocked on serve when Swiatek finally forced a break to creep over the line 6-4 in 52 minutes.
But the 21-year-old was immediately broken at the start of the second and struggled for consistency, before getting the job done.
“My goal in my next matches is not to get into that situation,” she said. “I need to have more intensity.”
The Pole insisted she could still take positives from the victory.
“It showed me that I don’t have to feel 100 percent to win a match.”
Niemeier was coming off the biggest season of her career in 2022, where she made the quarter-finals at Wimbledon and led Swiatek by a set and a break in the last 16 at the US Open.
But the 23-year-old faltered when serving at 5-4 and Swiatek pounced to level before taking the match.
“Honestly, I wanted to be focused on myself because I know that Jule serves amazing and was really pushing, putting pressure on me,” said Swiatek, who landed only 49 percent of her first serves.
The victory took her win-loss record in first-round Grand Slam matches to 15-1, a year after recording her best result at Melbourne Park, losing to Danielle Collins in the semi-finals.
The three-time major winner will face Colombia’s Camila Osorio in the second round.