Leading seeds made easy passages into the second round of the Australian Open on Monday’s opening day with Novak Djokovoic and Maria Sharapova leading the way.
Djokovic was ruthless in a 6-2, 6-4, 7-5 defeat of Paul-Henri Mathieu, while Sharapova spent just 55 minutes to crush her first opponent of 2013.
She humiliated fellow Russian Olga Puchkova 6-0, 6-0. That showcase match of the fortnight was quickly followed by another rout from China’s sixth seed Li Na, a 6-1, 6-3 winner over Kazak Sesil Karatantcheva.
Sharapova said that she kept her lack of recent court experience at the back of her mind.
“I didn’t want to focus on the fact I hadn’t played a lot of matches. I just wanted to focus on just what was ahead of me and really concentrate and be aggressive.
“I also had never faced her before. It was one of those matches where I didn’t try to worry about her too much. I just tried to think about what I had to do.”
Djokovic said he has a few niggles to clean up in his game, but was pleased overall with his efficient opening.
“It was a good performance for a first round, I felt I was in control of the match in the opening two sets,” said the Serb bidding for a record-setting third straight title at the event.
“Then he started playing better, striking the ball quite well from both sides on the baseline. I thought he was serving really precisely and really well.
“It was tough to break. But in the end, that 11th game, I made some good shots, good points, you know, managed to go through straight sets.”
“It’s always tough in the first round,” Li said. “You come to the court 50/50. You never know you can beat her or you can lose her.”
Stosur, Venus advance
Australian ninth seed Samantha Stosur finally shook off her home jitters with a defeat of Taiwan’s Chang Kai-Chen 7-6 (7-3), 6-3. There was an easy start for the 25th-ranked Venus Williams, Melbourne finalist a decade ago. The American beat Galina Voskoboeva of Kazakhstan 6-1, 6-0.
Former French Open champion Ana Ivanovic posted 6-2, 6-1 win over Melinda Czink of Hungary.
Berdych routs Russell
Czech Tomas Berdych, the number five, beat American Michael Russell 6-3, 7-5, 6-3 while Spanish number 10 Nicolas Almagro needed to go five sets but defeated Steve Johnson of the US 7-5, 6-7 (4-7), 6-2, 6-7 (6-8), 6-2 Swiss 15th seed Stanislas Wawrinka, beat Cedrik-Marcel Steeb of Germany 6-2, 6-4, 6-3 and Japan’s Kei Nishikori, the number 16, advanced over Victor Hanescu 6-7 (5-7), 6-3, 6-1, 6-3 There was early disappointment for Grigor Dimitrov, who went down to Frenchman Julien Benneteau 6-4, 6-2, 6-4.
Juan Monaco, the 11th-seeded player, was beaten 7-6 (3), 6-1, 6-1 by Andrey Kuznetsov of Russia, while 32nd-seeded Radek Stepanek came back from two sets down to claim a 5-7, 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, 7-5 win over Viktor Troicki of Serbia.