Federer fires up Australian Open

Second seed eases through to second round as Caroline Wozniacki and Venus Williams also win matches on day one.

    Sania Mirza of India, pictured, put up a spirited performance before falling to Justine Henin [AFP]

    Second seed Roger Federer and third seed Novak Djokovic have eased through to the second round of the Australian Open.

    Both recorded straight set wins in what might have been testing encounters on Monday's first day of the Grand Slam in Melbourne.

    Women's top seed Caroline Wozniacki and American Venus Williams also dispatched their first round opponents.

    Federer, the defending champion, was dominant in his 6-1 6-1 6-3 demolition of Lukas Lacko, ranked 97 in the world.

    The Swiss hit winner after winner, outclassing his Slovakian challenger, and looked in spectacular form.

    Djokovic had the task of dispatching Marcel Granollers, ranked 42, and did so with some style.

    The 2008 winner - his only Grand Slam to date - had too much for his Spanish opponent, clinching victory 6-1 6-3 6-1.

    Impressive wins

    Once again, the top seeds seem to be living up to their billing.

    Andy Roddick, Tomas Berdych and Fernando Verdasco all claimed impressive straight set wins, but 12th seed Gael Monfils came back from two sets down to win in five.

    Big-serving Sam Querry and Qatar Open finalist Nikolay Davydenko were first round losers, the Russian's form again faltering in the Grand Slams.

    World number one Wozniacki has had a difficult start to the season.

    The Dane was destroyed 6-0 6-1 by world number two Vera Zvonareva in Hong Kong, and was then dumped out of Sydney in round two.

    But the 20-year-old survived a tricky test against Gisela Dulko in Melbourne.

    Potential for upsets

    The potential for upsets is much greater on the women's tour than the men's, but the 52nd ranked Dulko failed to topple Wozniacki, the latter winning 6-3 6-4.

    Despite the win, questions will still be asked about her ability to go all the way.

    Many eyes will instead be on Venus Williams, who won 6-3 6-2 on Monday.

    She has come into the tournament an unknown entity, as she often is, and could go one step further than her 2003 runner-up performance.

    The 2010 finalist Justine Henin had a scare against India's Sania Mirza before coming through in three sets.

    The Belgian hasn't played a tournament since suffering a serious elbow injury at Wimbledon last year.

    And despite her first round win, she will face a sterner second round test against Britain’s Elena Baltacha.

    A certain contender for the title, Henin is still not pain-free, and may struggle against more consistent players.

    Easing through

    Former champion Maria Sharapova, home favourite Jelena Dokic and Sydney winner Li Na all eased through in straight sets, and Marion Bartoli recorded the first ‘double bagel’ of the tournament; a 6-0 6-0 winner over Tathiana Garbin.

    But 2008 semi-finalist Daniela Hantuchova and 17th seed Aravane Rezai crashed out, continuing the disappointing start to the young Frenchwoman’s season.

    Tuesday sees the likes of Andy Murray and Robin Soderling take to the court, along with women’s favourites Kim Clijsters and Vera Zvonareva.

    But the women's draw is certainly wide open, and it will take a strong mind to get through the two weeks in Melbourne.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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