MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) -- U.S. Open champion Serena Williams fumbled through mistiming, wild shooting and foot faults before surviving her Australian Open first-round match 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 against 261st-ranked Amanda Grahame today.
The third seed needed two hours to beat the Australian wild-card entry, playing in her first Grand Slam tournament and enjoying thundering support from a home crowd of nearly 14,000.
''It was just out of control,'' said Williams, who committed 55 unforced errors -- 23 in the second set -- in her first match in three months.
The match was interrupted for 35 minutes by rain, in the midst of a seven-deuce game as Grahame scored her second break of the second set to take a 4-1 lead. Play resumed after the stadium roof was closed.
Williams was called for eight foot faults, and sometimes punctuated her mistimed shots with ''Oh, oh!''
The 20-year-old Grahame attacked Williams with a strong left-handed serve, mixed up her pace and kept her nerve even when Williams broke for a 4-2 lead in the final set.
Grahame immediately broke back on four errors by the 18-year-old Williams, and in the final game saved two match points before bowing out with two errors.
Grahame said that at 4-4 in third, she thought she had a chance.
''It is just an incredible experience playing on center court and against Serena Williams, and I should get a lot of confidence out of that,'' she added.
The standing ovation at the end ''was just overwhelming,'' Grahame said.
Williams' mother and coach, Oracene, said Serena had arrived only Friday, still had jet lag and had not yet found her legs.
''It's now 7 a.m. my time,'' Serena said of the time in Florida. ''My legs usually get started back around 8, so they should be working in about 55 minutes.''
She also said a back injury had suddenly recurred, cutting short her practice earlier in the day, ''but I feel I can continue through.''
Williams said that at first she had planned to skip the Australian Open to take some time off from tennis and go to her design classes, but ''I'm glad I came.''
She also said she had been told her red shoes were responsible for all the foot fault calls, ''but I'm not giving up the red shoes. I'm just going to move back.''
Her older sister Venus, ranked No. 3, stayed home with tendinitis in her wrist.
''She's taking care of the dogs,'' Serena said.
In contrasting style, Martina Hingis, who has won three consecutive Australian Opens on slower courts, quickly beat heavy-hitting Mirjana Lucic 6-1, 6-2, and said the new, faster surface didn't worry her.
''You can hit the ball hard, you can hit a lot of winners, but it's almost impossible to do it all the way because you just have to be so concentrated, take the ball so early,'' Hingis said.
''It's just too hard to do once you have a player on the other side who can block it away, which I did today,'' she added.
No. 6 Barbara Schett downed American Meilen Tu 6-2, 6-7 (1), 6-4; No. 10 Conchita Martinez crushed Sandra Kleinova 6-1, 6-1; No. 12 Sandrine Testud beat Hungary's Petra Mandula 6-3, 4-6, 6-3; No. 13 Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario beat Julia Abe 6-2, 6-2, and No. 16 Elena Likhovtseva breezed past Bulgaria's Pavlina Nola 6-2, 6-2.
On the men's side, Goran Ivanisevic is one big server who hasn't been mentioned as a threat on the faster courts. That could change after he ousted 13th seed Cedric Pioline in the first round.
Ivanisevic served 13 of his 32 aces in the final set in today's 6-4, 2-6, 7-5, 1-6, 9-7 victory.
Pete Sampras says the resurfaced Melbourne Park hard courts are playing like grass, and Ivanisevic has had his best Grand Slam results on that surface, finishing as runner-up three times at Wimbledon.
''It is fast like Wimbledon, which is OK for me,'' Ivanisevic said.
Then again, Pioline said, ''you never know with Goran. Tomorrow he can lose to his mom.''
Not so, said Ivanisevic.
''She never played tennis. But I can lose to some pretty bad guys,'' added the 28-year-old Croat, who finished out of the top 20 last year for the first time in 10 years, but reached the fourth round at Wimbledon. He ended the year at 62nd.
Ivanisevic saved three break points in the final set's ninth game, and four in the 13th, where he came back from 0-40 with two aces and a service winner, and closed the game with another ace and service winner.
He broke Pioline in the final game at love, finishing with a forehand serve return winner.
''I just need to get my confidence back, my ranking back,'' said Ivanisevic, who climbed as high as No. 2 in 1994. ''Every match that I win is good for me, for my confidence. ... I just think I still belong up there somewhere and I still can play good tennis, so hopefully I can prove that.''
Pioline, a U.S. Open semifinalist last year, was among three men's seeds who lost today.
No. 5 Gustavo Kuerten had three match points in the fourth-set tiebreaker before losing 4-6, 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (8), 6-4 to Spain's Albert Portas.
Belgium's Christophe Rochus ousted No. 15 Albert Costa 6-3, 6-7 (8), 6-4, 6-3.
Defending champion Yevgeny Kafelnikov received treatment for a groin pull at 5-4 in the second set and then lost only three more games in a 6-7 (4), 6-4, 6-1, 6-2 victory over Germany's Jens Knippschild.
Kiefer defeated Argentina's Guillermo Canas 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4.
No. 7 Nicolas Lapentti, a semifinalist here last year, overcame Ukraine's Andrei Medvedev, the French Open runner-up, 6-3, 5-7, 6-7 (2), 6-4, 8-6 in 3 hours, 38 minutes.
No. 10 Tommy Haas beat France's Cyril Saulnier 7-6 (2), 6-4, 4-6, 6-2, and No. 12 Magnus Norman beat American Cecil Mamiit 7-5, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.
The second-seeded Kafelnikov, also troubled by back pain since last week, said he was proud that he could tough it out.
He was aced 20 times, but received help from 74 unforced errors by Knippschild.
Kafelnikov called the courts ''ridiculously fast compared to last year,'' and said conditions ''definitely favor the big-serve players like Sampras, Philippoussis, Krajicek.''
No. 3 Sampras, No. 9 Richard Krajicek and No. 16 Mark Philippoussis all won their first-round matches Monday.
Michael Chang, runner-up here and at the U.S. Open in 1996, lost 6-4, 6-4, 7-6 (5).
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