Australian Open - Men: Top seeds shine on opening day

Mon, 17 Jan 12:46:00 2011

Novak Djokovic produced a superb performance to reach the second round of the Australian Open, following confident displays from Roger Federer, Fernando Verdasco and Tomas Berdych.

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Dressed in black and oozing menace, third seed Djokovic tore into the second round of the Australian Open with a 6-1 6-3 6-1 blowout of Spain's Marcel Granollers.

The 2008 Melbourne champion raced through the first set without the slightest alarm and secured the decisive break for 4-3 in the second with an exquisite dinked, angled backhand past his lunging opponent.

Granollers, dressed in a red T-shirt reminiscent of the figure-clinging Star Trek uniforms, had no answer as Djokovic opened his shoulders and let rip at every opportunity.

Having watched defending champion Federer ease through earlier, Djokovic laid down a marker of his own and fittingly closed out a lop-sided match with an ace down the middle.

"Of course, all the credit to Rafa (Nadal) and Roger. They are deservedly the two biggest favorites to win this tournament. They're the two best players in the world," said the third seed.

"Definitely this performance gives me more confidence and gives me enough reason to think that I can beat anyone."

Federer retained his trademark bandana even though the ease of his 6-1 6-1 6-3 victory over Slovakian Lukas Lacko and the cool afternoon air made the threat of sweat interfering with his vision slight.

"I thought I played great," the four-times Australian Open champion and second seed said.

"Tried to play offensive from the start and see where it takes me. It didn't work. I got back and played a bit more risky and so forth.

"I thought it was a good match. I don't think he played too bad himself. I saw some talent in him too and that's why I think I was really happy I chose that tactics early on to pressure him."

Federer taking risks meant a treat for the crowd, who witnessed some brilliant shot-making from the 16-times Grand Slam champion.

It was hard to believe that the Swiss maestro's backhand was once considered a weakness in his game as he stroked impossible looking winners off it from the back of the court to set up a second round meeting with Frenchman Gilles Simon.

Men: Top seeds shine

Spanish ninth seed Verdasco, who reached the semi-finals two years ago, thumped Germany's Rainer Schuttler 6-1 6-3 6-2 while Berdych was similarly emphatic in his 6-4 6-0 6-2 dismissal of Italian qualifier Marco Crugnola.

Roddick also fired a reminder that he remains a force to be reckoned with by thumping Czech Jan Hajek 6-1 6-2 6-2.

The American, who briefly held the men's number one ranking after winning the 2003 US Open, looked sharp in his Melbourne opener, mixing up his game intelligently to win in an hour and 41 minutes.

Roddick's battering ram serve produced 18 aces but he frequently frustrated his 96th-ranked opponent with his deep, sliced backhand approach in a performance of real maturity.

Roddick, barely pausing between points, suffered his only blip while serving for the match at 5-2, fending off two break points before powering over the line behind another fistful of unplayable serves.

Frenchman Gael Monfils completed a great escape in the first round of the Australian Open after his opponent paid the price for 'tanking' the fourth set.

Dutchman Thiemo de Bakker had led by two sets and 5-3 but Monfils returned from the brink of elimination by pulling off a 6-7 2-6 7-5 6-2 6-1 win in Melbourne.

"I saw he was tanking in the fourth set," Monfils said. "I thought maybe if I break early, he would tank to get ready for the fifth."

The 12th seed added: "I know Thiemo a bit. Sometime he snaps in the head. We know he can snap. It's a weakness for him. So you play with that.

"Before the match my coach (Roger Rasheed) told me Thiemo is not a big believer. When I saw that, you get it," added the Frenchman, snapping his fingers. "So you tank and be ready in the fifth, because I will."

American 18th seed Sam Querrey was the first seeded player to fall and he took his time doing it, losing 5-7 6-2 3-6 6-1 8-6 to Pole Lukasz Kubot over three hours and 20 minutes.

Russian 23rd seed Nikolay Davydenko, three-times a quarter-finalist here, also made an early departure with a 6-3 4-6 7-6 6-4 defeat at the hands of German Florian Mayer.

Reuters

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