Photo: Paul ZimmerNovak Djokovic (SRB)
Novak Djokovic (SRB), Maria Sharapova (RUS), Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) and Sam Stosur (AUS) were just some of the big names to progress through to the second round in straight sets on the opening day at the Australian Open.
World No. 1 and defending champion Djokovic needed just over an hour and a half to see off France’s Paul-Henri Mathieu 62 64 75 on Rod Laver Arena to set up a second round clash with upcoming American Ryan Harrison.
"It's great to be back in Melbourne, this is by far my most successful court in my Grand Slam career," said the three-time champion. "Twelve months ago I played a six-hour final here so it's amazing to be back."
Sharapova, who won the title in Melbourne in 2008, double-bageled her compatriot Olga Puchkova in 55 minutes, No. 4 seed Radwanska eased to victory against Bojana Bobusic (AUS) 75 60, while Stosur was glad to put a run of five consecutive losses on home soil behind her with a 76 63 victory over Kai-Chen Chang (TPE).
"I desperately wanted to win out there today, but didn't necessarily feel it any more than my first rounds in Grand Slams," said Stosur. "From here hopefully I can loosen up a little bit and keep playing better and better."
Another Aussie, youngster Ashleigh Barty, put up a good fight against No.15 seed and last week’s Sydney runner-up Dominika Cibulkova (SVK), before succumbing 36 61 60. It was not a good day for the home players, Stosur being the only one of the nine Australian players in action to progress to the second round.
No. 25 seed Venus Williams (USA) defeated Galina Voskoboeva for the loss of just one game on Hisense Arena and Li Na (CHN) got her campaign for a second Grand Slam title off to a solid start when she overcame Sesil Karantantcheva (KAZ) 61 63.
Elsewhere in the men’s event No. 4 seed David Ferrer (ESP) got the better of Belgium’s Olivier Rochus to set up a second round encounter with American qualifier Tim Smyczek on Wednesday. Tomas Berdych (CZE) defeated Michael Russell (USA) 63 75 63 and in the night match on Rod Laver Arena Janko Tipsarevic (SRB) ended Lleyton Hewitt’s (AUS) 17th Australian Open with a straight sets win 76 75 63.
The biggest casualty on day one was No. 11 seed Juan Monaco who exited the tournament following a 76 61 61 loss to Andrey Kuznetsov (RUS). The only other seed to lose on the first day was No. 32 seed Mona Barthel, who despite finishing as runner-up in Hobart last week, was unable to find a way past Ksenia Pervak (KAZ) 75 62 64.
Defending Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka (BLR), who received support from the Grand Slam Development Fund, 17-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer (SUI), and US Open victor Andy Murray (GBR) are all in action on Tuesday.