Australian Open qualifying was delayed on Tuesday due to poor air quality as smoke from bushfires in Australia impacted Melbourne.

Play was due to get underway at 10:00 local time (23:00 GMT), but thick smoke blanketed Melbourne, leading to it being pushed back by an hour.

Bushfires have ravaged Australia in recent months and there have been concerns over player and spectator welfare at the year's first grand slam, with the main draw beginning on Monday.

The poor air quality has already impacted the event, with the Australian Open announcing practice had also been suspended during the morning on Tuesday.

"Practice was temporarily suspended this morning due to poor air quality," a statement read.

"Qualifying matches will begin at 11am. Conditions onsite are improving and are being constantly monitored.

"Further decisions will be made using onsite data and in close consultation with our medical team, the Bureau of Meteorology and scientists from EPA Victoria.

"As always the health and safety of our players, our staff and our fans is our priority."

Air quality in Melbourne has been in the 'hazardous' and 'very poor' range since midnight local time (13:00 GMT) in readings provided by the Environment Protection Authority Victoria.

Home hope Ajla Tomljanovic overcame a self-confessed lack of focus to beat Yulia Putintseva 7-6 (7-4) 6-2 and secure a second-round clash with Adelaide International second seed Simona Halep.

Tomljanovic fell 3-0 behind before battling back to take the first set to a tie-break, where she held her nerve before rounding out the win in more convincing fashion in the second.

"Not the greatest start," said Tomljanovic. "I don't even think it was nerves. I wasn't too focused at the start.

"With her, you have to be really sharp, disciplined, but still aggressive. It took me a little bit to find the balance.

"But I think once I got going, it was a battle. I mean, she's always tough. She never gives up. She runs down every ball, really makes you win it. This is a quality win for me."

Another Australian in the draw is top seed Ashleigh Barty, who got a first-round bye and will now face Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova following the Russian's 6-2 6-4 win over Anett Kontaveit.

Fourth seed Belinda Bencic beat Daria Kasatkina 6-4 6-4, while Sofia Kenin defeated Viktorija Golubic 6-0 6-4.

Other first-round results saw former world number one Angelique Kerber down Wang Qiang 6-1 6-3, Dayana Yastremska beat Timea Babos 7-5 6-3, and American Danielle Rose Collins dump out Aliaksandra Sasnovich 6-3 6-2.

At the Hobart International, seventh seed Rebecca Peterson retired hurt against Fiona Ferro, but fellow seeds Magda Linette and Veronika Kudermetova progressed without cause for concern.

Serena Williams finally ended her wait for a first title since becoming a mother with victory in the Auckland Open final on Sunday.

The 23-time grand slam champion saw off fellow American Jessica Pegula, winning 6-3 6-4.

Though Williams won the 2017 Australian Open while pregnant, she has experienced plenty of frustration since returning to the circuit following the birth of her daughter.

However, the weight of her title drought has now been lifted going into the first slam of the year at Melbourne Park, where she is the bookmakers' favourite to equal Margaret Court's all-time record for major wins.

Here we look back on Williams' six finals since her return.

Wimbledon 2018 v Angelique Kerber - Lost 6-3 6-3

Seeded 25th, Williams produced a remarkable performance to reach the final at the All England Club less than a year after giving birth. She did not drop a set until the quarter-finals, but was handily beaten by Kerber in the championship match.

Looking back on her performance in finals, Williams said after the 2019 US Open: "Kerber doesn't count because I was exhausted. My baby was eight months, and that's tough."

US Open 2018 v Naomi Osaka - Lost 6-2 6-4

Little about the excellent performance of Osaka is remembered as the contest was overshadowed by Williams' furious exchange with umpire Carlos Ramos that saw her receive three code violations, resulting in a game penalty. The trophy ceremony was marred by boos from the crowd, with Williams having to comfort a tearful Osaka.

Wimbledon 2019 v Simona Halep - Lost 6-2 6-2

Williams looked in imperious form at SW19 and few would have bet against her going into the final, but she was blown away by Halep, who cruised to an emphatic victory in just 56 minutes to win her second grand slam.

Rogers Cup 2019 v Bianca Andreescu - Lost 3-1 ret.

In an eventual preview of the US Open final, Williams was betrayed by her body as she was forced to retire after four games in Toronto. Appearing in tears as she was treated by the trainer, Williams was unable to continue after seeming to complain of back spasms.

US Open 2019 v Bianca Andreescu - Lost 6-3 7-5 

Another rout appeared on the cards as teenager Andreescu stunningly raced to a 5-1 lead in the second set. However, Williams - willed on by the ear-splitting roar of the Arthur Ashe crowd - fought back to level at 5-5 and at that point a turnaround appeared inevitable. The Canadian recovered, however, and dealt Williams her fourth consecutive major final defeat.

Auckland Open 2020 v Jessica Pegula - Won 6-3 6-4

Williams laid down an ominous marker when she brushed aside the promising Amanda Anisimova in just 44 minutes in the semi-final and Pegula had no answer in the showpiece as the 38-year-old claimed her 73rd WTA title. She was able to celebrate winning a tournament with daughter Alexis Olympia for the first time and announced she would donate her prize money to the Australian bushfire relief effort.

Just over a week out from the Australian Open, Williams looks in blistering form as she eyes a record-tying slam.

Serena Williams said winning in Auckland was "just a step towards the next goal" as she heads to Melbourne for a shot at history in the Australian Open.

The 38-year-old American succeeded in her mission to land a first trophy since landing her 23rd grand slam at Melbourne Park in 2017.

She was absent from the tour for 12 months while becoming a mother and had since been unable to capture a title, losing five finals - including four in grand slams.

The defeats were becoming a worrying trend, but a 6-3 6-4 victory over compatriot Jessica Pegula in the Auckland Open final on Sunday broke that streak.

Now Williams heads to Australia with a 24th slam her target as she bids to move level with Margaret Court at the top of the all-time list.

"It's pretty satisfying just to get a win in the finals," Williams said. "I think that was really important for me and I just want to build on it.

"Obviously, it's just a step towards the next goal."

Williams could not make it a twin success as she and Caroline Wozniacki fell to Asia Muhammad and Taylor Townsend in the doubles final.

"I'm OK with what happened," Williams said in a post-match news conference.

"I'm glad I was able to get a title in the singles - it's been a while. But I've been in the finals a lot, so I just keep going and just keep trying."

Victory over Pegula gave Williams a 73rd WTA singles title, meaning she has won tournaments in four decades, starting with five she won in 1999 as a teenager.

The Australian Open begins on Monday, January 20.

Caroline Wozniacki said she and Serena Williams "had so much fun" together - even though their Auckland Classic doubles title hopes were shattered in Sunday's final.

The unheralded American duo of Asia Muhammad and Taylor Townsend pulled off a notable upset, winning 6-4 6-4 to deny newly crowned singles champion Williams and former world number one Wozniacki.

For Williams, it was just the second women's doubles final defeat of an incredible WTA career, meaning her record in those matches stands at 23-2.

With Wozniacki retiring after the Australian Open, this was her last chance of a title in Auckland, where she was twice a singles runner-up.

The close friendship between Williams and Wozniacki was apparent, as the pair could be frequently seen in hysterics at the changeover between games, and both said afterwards they wished they had paired up earlier in their careers.

"We had a blast," Williams, who was a bridesmaid for Wozniacki last year, said.

But they could not get the job done on this occasion, with former singles number one Wozniacki and all-time great Williams outfought under the floodlights.

Townsend served for the match and brought up three match points with an ace beyond the Williams forehand, clinching the title when Wozniacki netted on the backhand.

Wozniacki said in an on-court presentation: "Serena, thank you so much for playing doubles with me. It's been so much fun. I think my only regret in tennis is that we didn't do this earlier because I've had such a blast.

"It's rare that I have this much fun on court.

"It's really a fun way to finish off here in Auckland. I couldn't have scripted it any better - obviously I wished we'd have won today, but you guys did so good. We did our best. Congrats on the singles as well today, Serena.

"We have so much fun off the court and now on the court as well. I want to take a little credit for Serena winning the singles today because I think the doubles helped her!"

Williams, filming her partner's interview on her smartphone, said her message to Wozniacki was: "Just congrats on an amazing career. It's not over yet. We have one more tournament to go of her being amazing."

That will come later this month at the Australian Open, the event at which Wozniacki won her one grand slam title in 2018.

"I had the most fun - maybe too much fun today," Williams said. "My only regret is we didn't do this sooner but at least we got to do it."

Former world number one Serena Williams claimed her first WTA Tour title in three years after winning the Auckland Open on Sunday.

Not since winning the 2017 Australian Open had Williams clinched silverware – the 23-time grand slam champion a runner-up at Wimbledon (2018 and 2019) and the US Open (2018 and 2019), while she retired in the 2019 Rogers Cup final.

However, Williams ended her drought by defeating fellow American Jessica Pegula 6-3 6-4 in the women's final in New Zealand.

"It feels good. It's been a long time. I think you could see the relief on my face," Williams said during her on-court interview before announcing she will donate her prize money (and a dress from each of her matches) to the bushfire relief effort in Australia.

Williams was almost flawless against Pegula, stepping up her preparations for the upcoming Australian Open with two aces and just one break of serve to capture her 73rd WTA crown – a record stretching across four decades after winning her first in 1999.

After a sluggish start, which saw the top seed fall 3-1 behind in the opening set, Williams eventually found her range en route to the 38-year-old's first trophy as a mother.

After snapping a sequence of five defeats in finals since her 2017 triumph at the Australian Open, Williams will look to equal Margaret Court's record of 24 slam titles at Melbourne Park.

Meanwhile, defending champion and second seed Karolina Pliskova won the Brisbane International for a second straight year after outlasting Madison Keys in three sets.

Pliskova prevailed 6-4 4-6 7-5 over eighth seed Keys for her third victory at the WTA Premier event in Brisbane.

Serena Williams was in brilliant form to reach the Auckland Open final, while Karolina Pliskova saved a match point to beat Naomi Osaka in a thrilling Brisbane International semi.

Williams needed just 44 minutes to crush 18-year-old Amanda Anisimova 6-1 6-1 in their last four clash at the WTA International tournament in New Zealand.

The 23-time grand slam champion mixed 17 winners with six unforced errors and lost just nine points on serve. Williams served five aces and converted all five of her break points in a dominant display in the lead up to the year's first grand slam in Melbourne.

The American moved into her 98th WTA Tour final and will be aiming for a 73rd title but first since the 2017 Australian Open when she faces Jessica Pegula.

Pegula upset fifth seed Caroline Wozniacki 3-6 6-4 6-0 in their semi-final.

A two-time runner-up, Wozniacki – who will retire after the 2020 Australian Open – won just 10 points in the third set.

Wozniacki will contest the doubles final with Williams against Taylor Townsend and Asia Muhammad.

In Brisbane, Pliskova lost a first set on a tie-break in which she squandered two set points and saved four, and was staring down the barrel after Osaka broke for a 6-5 lead in the second.

However, Osaka's first serve on match point was overly tentative and a series of errors handed Pliskova the break back. The second seed took full advantage, winning the subsequent tie-break and taking the decider in comfortable fashion to defeat the reigning Australian Open champion 6-7 (10-12) 7-6 (7-3) 6-2.

Earlier, Madison Keys rallied past Petra Kvitova to clinch a 3-6 6-2 6-3 victory, meaning there will be no all-Czech final in Queensland.

At the Shenzhen Open, Russian Ekaterina Alexandrova clinched her maiden WTA Tour title with a 6-2 6-4 win over Elena Rybakina in the final.

Serena Williams delivered a stellar display at the Auckland Open, saying she was "in the zone" in a thrashing of Amanda Anisimova on Saturday.

Williams needed just 44 minutes to crush 18-year-old Anisimova 6-1 6-1 in the semi-finals of the WTA International event.

The 23-time grand slam champion was in fine form in the lead up to the Australian Open, producing 17 winners and six unforced errors to move into the final against Jessica Pegula.

"I was definitely in the zone today. It was just one of those days," Williams said during an on-court interview.

"I knew I was playing a really, really great player and an even better person so I knew I had to come out serious."

Williams added: "It feels good. I've been working really hard for a couple of years.

"My daughter is only two, I tend to be really hard on myself, but considering everything I'm doing pretty good."

Williams moved into a 98th WTA Tour final and will be aiming for a 73rd title and first since the 2017 Australian Open.

Serena Williams and Caroline Wozniacki teamed up to reach the Auckland Classic doubles final after making the final four in the singles, while Naomi Osaka will challenge Karolina Pliskova for the number two ranking in Brisbane.

Williams and Wozniacki, playing as a pair for the first time, beat the top seeds in the quarter-finals and saved five set points in their opening set against Kirsten Flipkens and Alison Van Uytvanck before sealing a 7-6 (11-9) 6-2 victory to advance to the final.

They will play the winners of Saturday's all-American clash that sees Coco Gauff and Caty McNally take on Asia Muhammad and Taylor Townsend.

Earlier on Friday, Williams came from a break down in the second set to beat Laura Siegemund 6-4 6-3 and book an exciting semi-final against Amanda Anisimova, a 6-2 3-6 6-4 winner against wildcard Eugenie Bouchard.

Asked if she felt in good shape ahead of the Australian Open, Williams said: "I definitely feel that, and I feel like my match yesterday [against Christina McHale] was great.

"It's great that I went three sets, and it's great that I ran so much. I came out today just overall feeling better and doing better.

"Especially the match fitness – I'm super fit, but match fitness is a little different, so I think all these matches are really helping."

Wozniacki will face Jessica Pegula, who progressed when Alize Cornet retired at 6-0 3-2 down, after a routine 6-1 6-4 victory over defending champion Julia Goerges.

Osaka can improve her seeding ahead of the Australian Open if she makes the final at the Brisbane International, and standing in her way is her direct rival in world number two Pliskova.

Two-time major winner Osaka – ranked fourth in the world – had to fend off five break points to close out a 6-3 3-6 6-3 triumph over Kiki Bertens in the quarter-finals.

Reigning champion Pliskova lies in wait in the last four, though she had to stave off two set points in the first before winning 7-6 (8-6) 6-3 against Alison Riske. Petra Kvitova and Madison Keys will contest the other semi-final.

Garbine Muguruza was unable to kick off 2020 with a final appearance as she lost 6-4 6-3 to Ekaterina Alexandrova in the semi-finals of the Shenzhen Open.

Elena Rybakina, who beat Kristyna Pliskova 6-2 7-5, stands between Alexandrova and a first singles title on the WTA Tour.

Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka each came from a set down as they geared up their respective Australian Open preparations at the Auckland Classic and the Brisbane International.

Williams needed two hours to overcome compatriot Christina McHale 3-6 6-2 6-3 amid blustery conditions, dropping four of the first five games before hitting her stride.

"I got myself in a hole and I was able to get out of it, so that was satisfying," said Williams, who will face Laura Siegemund in the quarter-finals after the experienced German similarly beat Coco Gauff in three sets.

"I just got mad, and honestly, I said that I wanted to win more than one match here in New Zealand. I thought about that and sometimes it's the craziest things that get you motivated." 

Caroline Wozniacki, who is into the doubles semi-finals as Williams' partner in Auckland, came through a topsy-turvy encounter to beat Lauren Davis 6-1 4-6 6-4.

A dominant opening set from Wozniacki, where Davis was unable to hold serve, was not indicative of the absorbing back-and-forth that followed.

"I got a little lucky in the end and it could have gone both ways," the 29-year-old, who will retire after Melbourne, said.

Julia Goerges is up next for Wozniacki and enjoyed a more straightforward 6-3 6-2 win over Jil Teichmann.

World number one Ash Barty's first singles match of 2020 ended with American qualifier Jennifer Brady prevailing 6-4 7-6 (7-4) at the Brisbane International, where Osaka was facing a similar fate after dropping a tie-break in the opener of her match against Sofia Kenin.

The defending Australian Open champion stormed back to take the contest 6-7 (3-7) 6-3 6-1 and will face Kiki Bertens – a 6-3 2-6 7-5 winner over Anett Kontaveit.

Petra Kvitova made light work of Liudmila Samsonova, dropping only five games in a straight-sets victory, while number two seed Karolina Pliskova sowed more disappointment for the home crowd by beating Ajla Tomljanovic 6-4 6-7 (5-7) 6-1 to set up a quarter-final against Alison Riske.

Pliskova's twin Kristyna rounded out the quarter-final action at the Shenzhen Open with a 6-4 6-4 win against Kateryna Bondarenko.

She will face Elena Rybakina, who beat third seed Elise Mertens 6-4 4-6 6-2, while Garbine Muguruza and Ekaterina Alexandrova came through three-setters against Zarina Diyas and Wang Qiang respectively to reach the other semi-final.

World number one and top seed Ashleigh Barty said she is unfazed after her Australian Open preparations were dealt a blow following a shock Brisbane International elimination.

Playing her first singles match of 2020, French Open champion Barty was toppled 6-4 7-6 (7-4) by American qualifier Jennifer Brady in the last 16 on Thursday.

All eyes were on Barty with the Australian Open on the horizon, however, she was surprisingly dispatched in one hour, 31 minutes on Patrick Rafter Arena.

Expectations are high as Barty enters her home grand slam – which gets underway in Melbourne on January 20 – as the WTA's top-ranked player but the 23-year-old played down the pressure.

"Oh, I think that's all come you from you guys [media], if I'm being completely honest," Australian star Barty said of the pressure.

"It doesn't change the way that I practice. It doesn't change the way that my team and I prepare. It doesn't change me as a person.

"I think that you guys enjoy the fact that you get something to write about and you have something to talk about.

"Hopefully I make it interesting for you, but I don't look at it beyond that."

It was a difficult day for Barty, who struck 25 winners but 16 unforced errors and could not manage a break point on Brady's serve throughout.

"Of course I would love to go further. And I think, in my point of view, there's no more expectation from however many thousand people were out there today to when I play anywhere else around the world," said Barty as she turns her attention to next week's Adelaide International.

"I think I'm just trying to do the best that I can and obviously try and put my best foot forward and try and play my best tennis, because I know that they have obviously come to see quality tennis regardless of who is on the court.

"They have taken the time out of their day to come and watch some quality tennis. And I know that Jen and I played a quality match today, regardless of the result. And I think now I look forward to kind of doubles here and then maybe going to Adelaide."

Serena Williams and Caroline Wozniacki are making the most of the time they have left together on the women's tennis tour - moving two wins away from landing a trophy together.

American superstar Williams and Denmark's former Australian Open champion Wozniacki have been firm friends for a long time, often spending time together away from the circuit.

But Wozniacki is just weeks away from retirement, so there was no time like the present for the pair to team up in doubles for the first time, and almost certainly the last.

And at the Auckland Classic, the crowd-pleasing Williams-Wozniacki partnership could be destined for silverware after a thumping 6-2 6-1 victory over top seeds Caroline Dolehide and Johanna Larsson took them through to the semi-finals.

"I'm happy to have my second win in 10 years in doubles! But I've got the best partner," Wozniacki said in an on-court interview.

Williams returned the compliment, saying, according to the New Zealand Herald: "We are having a blast. I'm having a blast. [She is] the most fun partner. It's great."

Former singles world number one Wozniacki has barely played doubles in the past decade, and had not won a tour match in the format since a rare outing alongside Malou Ejdesgaard at the 2011 Danish Open.

Williams, however, brings all the credentials in the world. When Williams plays doubles, invariably she is in it to win it.

She and sister Venus have a 100% record in the grand slam doubles finals they have reached as a team, landing 14 of those major titles together, while they also have picked up three Olympic titles.

Indeed, the last time Serena reached a women's doubles final but fell short was way back in 1999, when she and Venus were runners-up at the Southern California Open.

Wozniacki bows out of tennis after the Australian Open, having decided at the age of 29 the time has come to explore what else life has to offer.

She and Williams, who beat Nao Hibino and Makoto Ninomiya in round one, face a wait to learn who their last-four opponents will be.

But lurking on the other side of the draw, also into the semi-finals, are a pair who should play a big part in the future of women's tennis: American teenagers Coco Gauff and Caty McNally.

Gauff, 15, and McNally, 18, saw off the second seeds - Lara Arruabarrena and Renata Voracova - in their opening match and followed up by brushing aside Australians Jessica Moore and Arina Rodionova 6-3 6-2.

Eugenie Bouchard served up a reminder of the ability that briefly looked set to make her a tennis superstar by powering through to the Auckland Classic quarter-finals.

The Canadian was a Wimbledon finalist six years ago and looked to have the world at her feet, only for results to drastically tail off.

She endured a wretched 13-match losing streak last season and began this week's tournament in New Zealand as the world number 262, having once been as high as fifth.

But there is still time for 25-year-old Bouchard to turn around her faltering tennis career, and a 6-4 6-4 victory over French eighth seed Caroline Garcia was an eye-catching result.

She and Garcia clattered a host of sparkling winners but each set ended the same way, with former world number four Garcia sending backhand service returns too long.

Playing on a wildcard invitation, Bouchard will next face American Amanda Anisimova, an 18-year-old who has shot up to 25th in the WTA rankings.

Anisimova saw off Russian Daria Kasatkina 6-2 6-4 to reach the last eight, teeing up a first meeting with Bouchard.

"Definitely she's playing well," Anisimova said of Bouchard. "It should be exciting to play another new player."

Alize Cornet and Jessica Pegula also won through to the last eight in Auckland.

Spain's former French Open and Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza battled through to the Shenzhen Open quarter-finals, beating American Shelby Rogers 6-1 7-6 (7-2) to set up a shot at Kazakhstan's Zarina Diyas.

Seeds Wang Qiang and Ekaterina Alexandrova also advanced, and will go head to head on Thursday for a semi-final ticket.

Wednesday was a dominant day for the American contingent at the Brisbane International, with Madison Keys, Danielle Collins and Alison Riske all scoring straight-sets wins.

Keys beat Australian Samantha Stosur 7-5 6-3, Collins landed a crushing 6-1 6-0 victory over Kazakhstan's Yulia Putintseva, and Riske scored a 6-3 6-4 success against Czech Barbora Strycova.

Former champion Maria Sharapova has been given a wildcard into the Australian Open.

Sharapova, 32, endured an injury-hit 2019, playing just 15 singles matches – winning eight – and slipping to 147th in the rankings.

The Russian suffered a first-round loss at the Brisbane International on Tuesday, but will take her place at Melbourne Park.

Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley confirmed on Wednesday that the 2008 champion would be given a chance at the year's first grand slam.

"We will give Maria Sharapova a wildcard," he told a news conference.

Sharapova has struggled to find her best form since returning from a 15-month drugs ban in 2017.

The five-time grand slam champion has reached the quarter-finals of a major just once in her past eight attempts, including making a fourth-round exit at the Australian Open last year.

Serena Williams described her victorious comeback as "solid" after she beat Camila Giorgi in straight sets at the Auckland Classic in her first match since the US Open.

The 23-time grand slam champion had taken a break after losing to Bianca Andreescu at Flushing Meadows.

Having warmed up with a doubles win alongside Caroline Wozniacki on Monday, Williams was back in singles action on Tuesday and cruised past Giorgi 6-3 6-2 in a little over another hour.

"I thought it was solid, technically my second match of the year," she said.

"Spent a long time off from tournament play, match play, so solid is pretty good. It's a great start to build on.

"It's definitely not easy [to get the rhythm back]. It's always hard to play a match early in the season."

Williams will face Christina McHale next and could meet 15-year-old Coco Gauff for the first time in the quarter-finals.

Her doubles partner Wozniacki, who will retire after the Australian Open, also progressed having dropped just one game against Paige Mary Hourigan.

Former world number one and defending Australian Open champion Naomi Osaka had more difficulties in beating Maria Sakkari 6-2 6-7 (4-7) 6-3 at the Brisbane International.

Sakkari had the momentum in the decider when she forged an early break, yet Osaka fought back and converted her second match point after double faulting with her first.

Petra Kvitova and Kiki Bertens, who, like Osaka, started the new season ranked in the world's top 10, also advanced in three sets with respective wins against Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Dayana Yastremska, while Jennifer Brady came from a set down to oust Maria Sharapova.

Belinda Bencic was eliminated at the Shenzhen Open, though, the world number eight and top seed beaten 3-6 6-3 6-3 by Anna Blinkova.

Defending champion and second seed Aryna Sabalenka was also knocked out as she suffered a straight-sets defeat to Kristyna Pliskova.

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