Australian Open: Federer, Wozniacki register opening-day wins

Monday, January 17, 2011

MELBOURNE - Women’s top seed Caroline Wozniacki and men’s defending champion Roger Federer set the pace for seeds Monday as the tennis elite advanced into the second round of the Australian Open on a day where the status quo reigned on court.

Wozniacki, bidding for a first Grand Slam title to back up her ranking, beat Gisela Dulko of Argentina 6-3, 6-4.

“I’m really happy to be through,” the Dane said. “I’m feeling good.”

Wozniacki’s win was her first of the season after exiting in her opening match last week in Sydney.

American fourth seed Venus Williams ventured onto court in an official match for the first time since a US Open knee problem and came away with a win over Sara Errani 6-3, 6-2.

“It’s been so long,” the 30-year-old said. “I have a lot of expectations for myself, you know, what I want to do out there on the court, but you never really know how it’s going to go until you hit the court and the match starts.”

French Open winner Francesca Schiavone, seeded sixth, struggled past Arantxa Parra Santonja of Spain 6-7 (4-7), 6-2, 6-4 while eighth seed Victoria Azarenka dispatched German qualifier Kathin Woerle 6-0, 6-2.

China’s Li Na, former champions Justine Henin and Maria Sharapova, and France’s Marion Bartoli all moved through.

Na beat Swede Sofia Arvidsson 6-1, 7-5, seven-time Grand Slam winner Henin stopped Indian qualifier Sania Mirza 5-7, 6-3, 6-1 and Sharapova, the number 14, edged past Thai Tamarine Tanasugarn 6-1, 6-3. Bartoli crushed Italian Tathiana Garbin love-love.

Australian hopes were dented on day one as Russian Evgeniya Rodina beat Olivia Rogowska 6-3, 6-1, Belgian Yanina Wickmayer put out weekend Tasmania champion Jarmila Groth 6-3, 2-6, 6-4 and Briton Anne Keothovong produced a surprise over Anastasia Rodionova 7-5, 6-4.

On the men’s side, Federer, Wimbledon finalist Tomas Berdych and Andy Roddick blasted into the second round with the loss of just 16 games among their three matches in a show of force from the seeds.

Number two Federer crushed Slovak Lukas Lacko 6-1, 6-1, 6-3 as the holder made a majestic start.

The Swiss was ruthless against the 97th-ranked outsider, ripping through the opening set in 22 minutes, stealing a 3-0 lead with ease in the second and blasting home as he begins the quest for a fifth Melbourne trophy after winning his fourth in 2010.

But Federer needed a slight refinement of strategy to insure victory against his eager opponent.

“I thought I played great,” the 16-time Grand Slam champion said. “I tried to play offensive from the start and see where it takes me.”

“It didn’t work,” admitted Federer, broken in the second set but quickly getting it back. “So I got back and played a bit more risky and so forth. I was able to keep on pressing, put him on the back foot.”

Third seed Novak Djokovic was on imperious form as he beat Marcelo Granollers 6-1, 6-3, 6-1, ending with an ace.

Number six Berdych pounded Italian qualifier Marco Crugnola 6-4, 6-0, 6-2 while eighth seed Roddick beat Czech Jan Hajek 6-1, 6-2, 6-2. Ninth seed Fernando Verdasco went past German Rainer Schuettler 6-1, 6-3, 6-2.

“I had a good off season,” said Roddick, who lost the final of the Brisbane International January 9 to Robin Soderling. “I feel healthy and strong for the first time in a while. I got five matches in Brisbane, which is all you can pretty much ask for.”

Frenchman Gael Monfils, the number 12, notched his first win from two sets to love down with a fightback over Dutchman Thiemo de Bakker 6-7 (5-7), 2-6, 7-5, 6-1, 6-1.

“I just tried to hold and believe in myself and try to think about simple things, like do like maybe move a bit faster and move my legs more and just fire up a bit,” Monfils said.

Spain’s 14th seed Nicolas Almagro beat Stephane Robert of France 6-4, 6-3, 6-7 (4-7), 7-5 while 16th seed Mardy Fish went to see a doctor with fears he was coming down with a virus after defeating Victor Hanescu 2-6, 4-6, 6-3, 7-5, 6-3.

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