Williams, looking for her sixth title, closed the evening on Rod
Laver Arena with a 6-2 6-1 demolition of local hope Ashleigh Barty
after four-times champion Djokovic had overcome Lukas Lacko 6-3
Earlier, there were shocks aplenty in the women's draw with the
biggest coming when sixth seed Petra Kvitova fell victim to Thai
world number 88 Luksika Kumkhum in front of a rapturous crowd on
Margaret Court Arena.
There were upsets for two Italian seeds as well, Sara Errani beaten
6-3 6-2 by German Julia Goerges and her doubles partner Roberta
Vinci going down 6-4 6-3 to China's Zheng Jie.
Serena's sister Venus Williams also bid an early farewell to the
tournament when she blew a 3-0 lead in the deciding set to lose 2-6
6-4 6-4 to Russian Ekaterina Makarova.
Djokovic's new co-coach Boris Becker will have raised an eyebrow
with the 30 unforced errors the second seed served up as he opened
his quest for a fourth straight title in Melbourne.
The Serbian always looked like cantering to victory in three sets,
however, and 23 minutes after taking a tight second stanza by
dominating the tiebreak, he was firing down his 10th ace for the
"I know that I didn't play my best, especially in the second set,"
said Djokovic, who has now won his last 22 matches at Melbourne Park
and 25 contests in a row in all tournaments since his loss to Rafa
Nadal in the U.S. Open final.
"I was a little bit too passive in some stages of the match and was
trying to find the proper setting and proper balance and footing in
With temperatures forecast to soar well above 40 degrees Celsius
from Tuesday onwards, there was good reason for the players to keep
their time on court to a minimum and rest up for challenges to come.
Even in the cool of the evening, Serena Williams showed no signs of
wanting to hang around and 17-year-old Barty looked like a lamb
heading for the slaughter.
Williams, who hit 31 winners, feasted on the teenager's second serve
and even dominated at the net, suggested that she herself was the
biggest obstacle to her title ambitions.
"I just don't want to get in my way. I just have to stay out of my
way and I'll be fine," she said.
"As long as I'm able to stay relaxed, I'll be OK."
Thai Luksika was far from relaxed as she looked to close out her
victory over Kvitova but was soon bowing to all corners of the
stadium having sealed the biggest win of her career 6-2 1-6 6-4.
[to top of second column]
"I was really excited to be here, feeling good," said former
Wimbledon champion Kvitova. "I think that probably I wanted (it)
too much, and then everything just fell down."
Fourth seeded Chinese Li Na never came anywhere near being upset
as she dispatched teenager Ana Konjuh 6-2 6-0 to set up a
meeting with another 16-year-old, Swiss Belinda Bencic.
Bencic beat 43-year-old Kimiko Date-Krumm 6-4 4-6 6-3 in a
battle of generations — the 27-year age gap between the two the
widest at a grand slam since a 47-year-old Martina Navratilova
was beaten by 19-year-old Gisela Dulko at Wimbledon in 2004.
Local hopes in the women's draw rest largely with Sam Stosur and
the 2011 U.S. Open champion made a reasonable start on Monday,
gaining revenge for a semi-final defeat in Sydney last week with
a 6-3 6-4 win over Czech Klara Zakopalova.
Men's top 10 seeds David Ferrer, Tomas Berdych, Stan Wawrinka
and Richard Gasquet earlier raced into the second round with
three set victories, eager to make the most of relatively mild
conditions at Melbourne Park.
Ferrer sprinted to a 5-0 lead in the first set before being
drawn into a scrap with Colombian Alejandro Gonzalez but still
ground out a 6-3 6-4 6-4 victory.
"The most important thing is to win. Today maybe I didn't play
my best tennis, but I won," said Ferrer, the least favored third
seed at Melbourne Park for several years.
Swiss Wawrinka, Djokovic's potential quarter-final opponent, had
the easiest passage when Kazakh Andrey Golubev retired while
trailing 6-4 4-1.
German Tommy Haas, seeded 12th, also retired with a shoulder
injury while losing to Spain's Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in his
first round match.
Berdych and Gasquet both went through in less than two hours,
however, the seventh seeded Czech beating Aleksandr Nedovyesov
6-3 6-4 6-3 and ninth seed Gasquet downing fellow Frenchman
David Guez 7-5 6-4 6-1.
Spanish top seed Nadal gets his campaign underway on Tuesday
along with two of the other "big four" of men's tennis,
Wimbledon champion Andy Murray and 17-times grand slam champion
(Editing by Justin Palmer)
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