Aus Open Pix: Djokovic wins easy opener
Novak Djokovic successfully negotiated the first hurdle in his quest to rewrite the Australian Open record books with an opening round 6-2, 6-4, 7-5 victory over France's Paul-Henri Mathieu on Monday.
The 25-year-old Serb is attempting to win his third successive Australian Open title, and fourth overall. No man in the professional era has won three successive Australian titles.
Djokovic was rarely pushed by Mathieu, a former top-20 player whose ranking dropped after knee surgery ruled him out for the entire 2011 season, aside from the second game of the second set when he had to save three break points.The World No 1 will now meet Ryan Harrison of the US in the second round after the American had earlier overcome Colombia's Santiago Giraldo 2-6, 6-4, 7-5, 6-4.
Image: Serbia's Novak Djokovic in action against Paul-Henri Mathieu of France
Photographs: Ryan Pierse/Getty Images
Dominant Sharapova doles out double bagel
Maria Sharapova has put a small fortune into her sweet making business but she might consider a sideline in baked treats after serving up fellow Russian Olga Puchkova a double-bagel to cruise into the second round of the Australian Open on Monday.
Sharapova's 6-0, 6-0, demolition of the hapless Puchkova at the Rod Laver Arena completed a 'bagel slam', having left opponents scoreless at the French Open, Wimbledon and Flushing Meadows.
The second seeded Russian launched her premium-priced range of "Sugarpova" lollies in Melbourne on Friday, bringing her fledgling business Down Under after successfully introducing it to the United States.
But there was precious little sweetness on display on centre court as Sharapova crushed the 107th-ranked Puchkova in 55 minutes.
"I didn't want to focus on the fact I hadn't played a lot of matches," Sharapova, the 2008 champion, said.
"(I) just wanted to focus on just what was ahead of me and really concentrate and, you know, be aggressive.
"So it was just one of those matches where I didn't try to worry about her too much. I just tried to, you know, think about what I had to do."
Image: Maria Sharapova of Russia serves to compatriot Olga Puchkova during their first round match on Monday
Photographs: David Gray/Reuters
The score gave Sharapova little extra satisfaction
After saving two break-points in the opening game, Sharapova needed to do precious little thinking, with her opponent committing 19 unforced errors, including one to bring up three match points.
Sharapova had pulled out of all of her warm-up tournaments after suffering pain in her neck and collarbone, but showed little discomfort as she blasted six aces and 18 winners in bright morning sunshine.
Puchkova surrendered the match with a forehand that floated long. While undoubtedly leaving her a bitter taste, the score gave Sharapova little extra satisfaction.
"When you're out there and playing, you're just focusing on every point and every game and trying to win as many as you can, and today was just a good scoreline," she said."If you win 7-6 in the third, you still won the match."
Image: Maria Sharapova plays a returns against compatriot Olga Puchkova
Photographs: Scott Barbour/Getty Images
Venus overpowers Voskoboeva
American Venus Williams took the first step towards a potential third round clash against Maria Sharapova with a 6-1, 6-0 thrashing of Kazakhstan's Galina Voskoboeva at the Australian Open on Monday.
The 32-year-old Williams, who won her first tournament in almost three years in Luxembourg last October after battling injuries and illness, was simply too powerful for the 28-year-old, who had problems with her serve the entire match.
The Kazak often lost the ball in the sun during her toss, while on several occasions it drifted the wrong side of the service line. Even then there was little pace on the ball, allowing Williams to step in and blast back forehand winners.
"I mean, the stats looked good for me. I haven't seen them all yet, but I got a high first serve percentage and more winners than errors, so that always makes a good match," Williams said.
"Obviously it's nice to spend less time on the court, and not be in long sets. Obviously a win is a win no matter what it is, but it's nice when it's more routine.
Image: Venus Williams plays a forehand against Galina Voskoboeva of Kazakhstan
Photographs: Mark Kolbe/Reuters
'I did my best to just close it out'
Williams will now meet France's Alize Cornet or New Zealand's Marina Erakovic in the second round, with a mouth-watering clash against world number two Sharapova in her.
Wearing a self designed watercolour inspired dress on Hisense Arena, Williams is entering the twilight of her career and after battling back from the auto-immune, fatigue inducing illness Sjogren's Syndrome in 2011 she has taken a more philosophical outlook.
"I realise one day it will end," she said of her long career.
"So now I realise all these opportunities. I try to take to best I can of them. When it's over, I will be out and hopefully, I won't run out of money and have to commentate.
"But I'd like to move on from tennis. I love designing. I put my foot in that door already, and probably helping players on the side."I love the game, and while I'm here, I'm going to go for it."
Image: Venus Williamshits a return to Galina Voskoboeva of Kazakhstan
Photographs: Toby Melville/Reuters
Radwanska edges past Bobusic
Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska battled through a tricky first set and swept through the second to beat Australian Bojana Bobusic 7-5, 6-0 and extend her season-long winning streak to 10 matches at the Australian Open on Monday.
The fourth seed, who won back-to-back titles to kick off the new year, was never going to match the 6-0, 6-0 victory over Dominika Cibulkova in the Sydney International final last week but after a slow start, she gradually overpowered her opponent.
After dropping serve three times in the first set, Radwanska rediscovered her touch on a blustery Margaret Court Arena with wildcard Bobusic's 41 unforced errors helping her advance to a second round meeting with Arantxa Rus or Irina-Camelia Begu.
A Wimbledon finalist last year, Radwanska has made three appearances in the quarter-finals at Melbourne Park and is determined to go deeper this year."It's always tough when you have never played someone before," she said at courtside. "I will do everything in my power to do better this year."
Image: Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland signs autographs for fans after winning her first round match against Bojana Bobusic of Australia
Photographs: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images
Berdych takes advantage of error-prone Russell
Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic has defeated American Michael Russell 6-3, 7-5, 6-3 to advance to the second round of the Australian Open.
The No 5 seed made only half of his first serves on Monday, but took advantage of 42 unforced errors from Russell to break the American six times.
Berdych, the 2010 Wimbledon finalist, has reached the quarter-finals in Melbourne the past two years, but has never advanced beyond that stage.
The 34-year-old Russell was the third-oldest man in the men's singles draw after Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo and Tommy Haas.
Image: Tomas Berdych of Czech Republic hits a return to Michael Russell of the US during their first round match
Photographs: Damir Sagolj / Reuters
Nishikori rallies past Romanian Hanescu
Kei Nishikori recovered from a tough first-set tiebreaker to beat Victor Hanescu of Romania 6-7, (5), 6-3, 6-1, 6-3 in a first-round match Monday at the Australian Open.
Leading 3-0 in the third set, Nishikori called out the ATP trainer, who worked on his left knee and quadriceps for a few minutes. It was the same knee which has bothered the Japanese star this month, forcing him to retire from his Brisbane International against Andy Murray and withdraw from an exhibition tournament.
In the fourth set, Nishikori broke Hanescu's service in the eighth game to go ahead 5-3, then held his serve to advance to the second round.Nishikori next faces the winner of the match between Carlos Berlocq of Argentina and Belgian qualifier Maxime Authom.
Image: Kei Nishikori of Japan plays a backhand in his first round match against Victor Hanescu of Romania
Photographs: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images
Li Na does it easy against Karatantcheva
Former French Open champion, China's Li Na continued to thrive under the guidance of her new coach with a 6-1, 6-3 victory over Sesil Karatantcheva.
"He's not only a teacher about tennis, not only about technique, he's also helping me get my mind stronger on court," Li said of Justine Henin's former mentor Carlos Rodriguez.
Li, who has been deemed by bookies as the fifth-likeliest female to win the Australian trophy next weekend -- behind Serena Williams, Victoria Azarenka, Maria Sharapova and Agnieszka Radwanska -- faces Belarusian Olga Govortsova in the second round.
The 24 year-old, Govortsova, ranked No.58 in the world, took three sets to overcome France's Pauline Parmentier.
Li holds a 2-0 head-to-head advantage over Govortsova.
Image: Li Na of China hits a return to Sesil Karatantcheva of Kazakhstan
Photographs: Daniel Munoz / Reuters
There is a load of room for improvement at the moment: Stosur
Mental fragility has contributed to Samantha Stosur's poor previous showings at her home grand slam and the ninth seed again failed to convince in a 7-6, 6-3 win over Chang Kai-chen of Taiwan.
"I desperately wanted to win out there today, but I didn't necessarily feel it any more than my first rounds in grand slams," said the Australian, who was knocked out in the first round last year and at her warm-ups in Brisbane and Sydney."I still think there is a load of room for improvement at the moment but it's just the start of the tournament. Hopefully each match I can get a little bit better."
Image: Samantha Stosur of Australia plays a backhand against Kai-Chen Chang of Chinese Taipei
Photographs: Michael Dodge/Getty Images