Four-time winner Novak Djokovic, defending champion Stan Wawrinka, Japanese star Kei Nishikori, world no.1 Serena Williams, fourth seed Petra Kvitova two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka and serious challenger Caroline Wozniacki won their first-round matches on the second day of the Australian Open at Melbourne. Except a little first-set wobble for Wozniacki, none of these players faced any difficulty in overcoming their opponents. For once, the Australian summer is not troubling guys and the girls on court but some men’s seeds and some women’s; made their exits on Tuesday.
World no.1 and top seed Novak Djokovic defeated Slovenian Aljaz Bedene 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 in a match, where the Serb showed no mercy to the last week’s Chennai Open runner-up. Playing his first major since becoming a father, Djokovic was clinical in his first match. Since his son’s birth in October, Djokovic has defended his Paris Masters 1000 title and didn’t lose a single match on the way to the ATP World Tour Finals at London. However, he found a pothole at Doha, where he lost to ATP ace-king Ivo Karlovic but no one doubts about the Serb’s firm-favorite status at Melbourne Park for his fifth Australian Open title. Reigning men’s champion Stanislas Wawrinka brushed aside a challenge from Marsel Ilhan of Turkey in 89 minutes with a 6-1, 6-4, 6-2 victory. The Swiss fourth seed had beaten Rafael Nadal last year and he looks keen to repeat the heroics yet again. No.5 seed Kei Nishikori opened his Australian Open campaign by beating the danger man Nicolas Almagro of Spain in straight sets 6-4, 7-6, 6-2. The Japanese and the Spaniard have nearly similar styles as they use the baseline for their aggressive games. Therefore, it was presumed that the match would last the distance but Nishikori prevailed earlier to enter the second round.
When Serena Williams arrived for her match at the Margaret Court Arena, her aura and status attracted undiminished attention. After all, the American has been part of the tennis scene for so long and she has won 18 Grand Slams. Her yellow-and-pink tennis attire this year has been designed by Nike to project female power and strength. There were positive vibes from spectators and colleagues alike. But when she played, Serena simply ran through her Belgian opponent Alison Van Uytvanck with a 6-0, 6-4 victory. Serena served11 aces and 21 winners against the Belgian. Also, it was the 57th time out of 58 Grand Slam appearances that Serena didn’t lose in her first-round match. Fourth seeded Czech Petra Kvitova also made a forceful start by beating Dutch qualifier Richel Hogenkamp 6-1, 6-4 but Caroline Wozniacki had a tough first set in her match against US teenager Taylor Townsend before winning 7-6, 6-2. Wozniacki will now run up against double Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka in the next round. Azarenka easily defeated American Sloane Stephens 6-3, 6-2 in her first round match. Wozniacki and Azarenka are both highly talented players, who had to miss tennis action for some time for different reasons last season. The Danish woman is one, who has made long strides in recent times and Azarenka is back after her injury-ridden lay-off. Therefore, it will be sad that one of them will have to leave Melbourne Park so early. Another women’s seed to go through to the second round was Agnieszka Radwanska but the Pole stuttered against little-know Japanese Kurumi Nara before coming through 6-3, 6-0. Radwanska now has a new coach in Martina Navratilova but Martina must have been a little displeased with her ward’s first set blunders.
The second day, however, was not kind to 11th seed Fabio Fognini, 21st seed Alexandr Dolgopolov, 25th seed Julien Benneteau and 27th seed Pablo Cuevas as these men lost their first round matches. The women’s seeds who couldn’t make it to the second round on Tuesday included; 12th seed Flavia Pennetta, 13th seed Andrea Petkovic and 15th seed Jelena Jankovic.
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