Fedex, Serena cruise
Serena Williams, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic opened their title defenses with straight-set wins at the Australian Open in back-to-back matches on Rod Laver Arena.
Melbourne: Serena Williams, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic opened their title defenses with straight-set wins at the Australian Open in back-to-back matches on Rod Laver Arena.
The most dominant players in tennis entered the season's first major after contrasting preparations, with Williams having to overcome a left knee problem that limited her court time and Djokovic warming up with a run to the title at Doha.
Williams made a bright start, in a way, holding up one finger and twirling in her neon yellow two-piece outfit to celebrate her 6-4, 7-5 over Camila Giorgi on Monday. Djokovic had a 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 win over Chung Hyeon of South Korea.
Federer kicked off his campaign with a 6-2, 6-1, 6-2 demolition of Georgian battler Nikoloz Basilashvili to reach the second round.
Williams and Djokovic each won three of the four major titles last season, with Williams falling two matches short of a calendar-year Grand Slam when she lost in the US Open semifinals and Djokovic's only loss coming in the French Open final.
Williams withdrew from the Hopman Cup because of inflammation in her knee, playing just one set in Perth.Yet she dropped just one service game against No 34-ranked Giorgi, who struggled with 12 double-faults, including one on the decisive break point in the 11th game of the second set.
No 24 Sloane Stephens, who beat Serena Williams in the 2013 Australian Open quarterfinals, lost 6-3, 6-3 to Chinese qualifier Wang Qiang, while No. 26 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and No. 27 Anna Karolina Schmiedlova also went out in the first round.
Djokovic's bid for a sixth Australian Open title started in temperatures of 34 Celsius (93 Fahrenheit), and he became annoyed with himself and his play at times, including three double-faults. Overall, though, he was consistently too good for one of the up-and-coming players on tour.
He said everything started looking up for him when he became a dad back in 2014, then joked about maybe having another baby. Sixth-seeded Tomas Berdych, a semifinalist last year, opened his 50th consecutive major by beating Yuki Bhambri of India 7-5, 6-1, 6-2.