MELBOURNE, Australia — The Australian Open wasn't even three days old before both Williams sisters were injured and the top five men's seeds disappeared from the pairing sheets.
No. 4 Yevgeny Kafelnikov and No. 5 Sebastien Grosjean lost Wednesday, leaving the year's first major without its top five men midway through the second round. That never happened before at a Grand Slam event.
Venus Williams, seeded second, limped around court with an injured knee in a 6-3, 6-4 victory over fellow American Kristina Brandi that stretched Williams' unbeaten streak to 22.
Williams, who had a patch on her left knee, dropped serve when leading 5-2 in the second set, but clinched it with her second match point when Brandi put a backhand in the net.
"God's blessed me to be able to get through this round," said Williams, the U.S. Open and Wimbledon champion, who hopes that a rest day Thursday will help her recover.
Williams' younger sister, Serena, seeded fifth, withdrew before her opening match Monday with an injured ankle.
"Serena wasn't able to play, so I'll give it my all to hang around," Venus said. She hurt the knee just 20 minutes before the match, but she's not sure how.
"Sometimes those old pains revisit you at the most inopportune times," she said. "My trainer did really well just to keep me out there."
In Wednesday's last match, Wimbledon champion Goran Ivanisevic lost 6-3, 7-6 (2), 5-7, 6-4 to Frenchman Jerome Golmard and became the last of the 2001 Grand Slam titlists to fall.
Kafelnikov was the top ranked player in the draw following the first-round losses of U.S. Open titlist Lleyton Hewitt, the No. 1 seed, French Open champion Gustavo Kuerten, seeded second, and the withdrawal of two-time defending champion Andre Agassi, seeded third.
The Russian lost 6-3, 7-5, 6-3 to American qualifier Alex Kim, a former Stanford player whose first win in a Grand Slam was his first-round win against Davide Sanguinetti.
Kafelnikov had 55 unforced errors and 10 double-faults against the 23-year-old Kim, who did nothing spectacular except chase down every ball.
Kim, ranked No. 234, reached match point with a forehand from the baseline that ticked the top of the net and dribbled over. Kafelnikov ended the 1-hour, 42-minute match with a backhand into the net.
"I don't think it's really hit me yet what's just happened out there," Kim said. "But I've worked really hard in the last month or so, and anything can happen in a Grand Slam. I felt confident going into the match — not that I was going to win — but that I was hitting the ball well and I think I had a good shot."
Kafelnikov, Australian Open champion in 1999 and runner-up in 2000, had never failed to reach the quarterfinals at Melbourne Park in seven previous trips.
"I don't remember when I played that terrible in a Grand Slam at all," said Kafelnikov, who won the Sydney 2000 Olympic gold medal to supplement his Australian and French Open titles.