Djokovic begins in style

Tennis Australian Open: Cirstea packs off home hope Stosur; Serena, Murray struggle

Champion Novak Djokovic made a triumphant return to the venue that kick-started his remarkable 2011 as the former joker of the courts emphatically demonstrated he was not prepared to cede his Australian Open crown without a fight.

Djokovic’s victory in Melbourne last year sparked a remarkable season in which he won three Grand Slam titles and compiled a 70-6 record as he finally overhauled Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer as the world number one.

On Tuesday, in baking hot conditions similar to those that had tripped the 2008 champion up in his first Melbourne Park title defence, the Serb produced an emphatic 6-2, 6-0, 6-0 victory over Italian journeyman Paolo Lorenzi in 92 minutes.

“It took me a couple games to get into the right rhythm,” Djokovic, who entertained the fans with some flashes of brilliance including an audacious ‘through the legs’ shot, said.
“You know, the conditions are a bit difficult. Today was I think around 35 degrees, so it took a bit of time to get used to the heat,” he added.

Djokovic’s fellow US Open champion, Australia’s Sam Stosur, wilted in the pressure cooker environment on Rod Laver Arena in front of local fans holding heightened expectations as she crashed to a 7-6, 6-3 loss to Romania's Sorana Cirstea.

Local fans, however, did have something to cheer about when Lleyton Hewitt rattled off six successive games and come back from a 5-1 fourth set deficit to beat Germany’s Cedrik-Marcel Stebe and advance to the second round.

Hewitt, a former world number one who now appears to approach matches as a man who has hired the court for four hours and is going to get his money’s worth, blew a two-set lead and failed to capitalise on Stebe requiring virtually constant treatment on his left calf muscle before he clinched victory in three hours, 58 minutes.

The Australian will now face 15th-seed Andy Roddick, who beat Dutchman Robin Haase 6-3, 6-4, 6-1, though the American said that he expected the match to go the distance, despite Hewitt now being ranked 181st in the world.

World number two Petra Kvitova and fourth seed Maria Sharapova were unruffled by the hot conditions with Kvitova’s ruthlessly efficient 6-2, 6-0 victory over Vera Dushevina taking a tick over one hour.

Sharapova was as merciless on Hisense Arena, beating Argentina’s Gisela Dulko 6-0, 6-1 in 58 minutes.

Two other title favourites, however, had to shake off early rust before running out winners.
Five-times champion Serena Williams struggled to get going against Tamira Paszek of Austria before she won 6-3, 6-2 in 79 minutes.

British fourth seed Andy Murray lost the first set of his match to American teenager Ryan Harrison. The 2010 and 2011 runner-up at Melbourne Park, however, got accustomed to Harrison's style of play by the second set and was untroubled thereafter in a 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-2.


Australian Open results

First-round results on Tuesday (prefix denotes seeding): Men’s singles:  19-Viktor Troicki (Srb) bt Juan Carlos Ferrero (Esp) 4-6, 6-7 (3-7), 6-2, 7-6 (7-3), 6-2; Lleyton Hewitt (Aus) bt Cedrik-Marcel Stebe (Ger) 7-5, 6-4, 3-6, 7-5; 6-Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (Fra) bt Denis Istomin (Uzb) 6-4, 3-6, 6-2, 7-5; 12-Gilles Simon (Fra) bt Danai Udomchoke (Tha) 6-1, 3-6, 6-7 (5-7), 6-3, 6-2; 15-Andy Roddick (US) bt Robin Haase (Ned) 6-3, 6-4, 6-1; Nicolas Mahut (Fra) bt 29-Radek Stepanek (Cze) 7-5, 7-5, 6-3; 4-Andy Murray (Gbr) bt Ryan Harrison (US) 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-2;  9-Janko Tipsarevic (Srb) bt Dmitry Tursunov (Rus) 5-7, 7-6 (14-12), 6-3, 6-4; 14-Gael Monfils (Fra) bt Marinko Matosevic (Aus) 7-6 (7-5), 6-3, 6-3; Ryan Sweeting (US) bt Matthias Bachinger (Ger) 6-4, 6-4, 6-2; Tatsuma Ito (Jpn) bt Potito Starace (Ita) 6-3, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4; Michael Llodra (Fra) bt Ernests Gulbis (Lat) 2-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-2; James Duckworth (Aus) bt Juergen Zopp (Est) 6-3, 6-4, 6-4; 23-Milos Raonic (Can) bt Filippo Volandri (Ita) 6-4, 6-0, 6-2; 1-Novak Djokovic (Srb) bt Paolo Lorenzi (Ita) 6-2, 6-0, 6-0; Edouard Roger-Vasselin (Fra) bt Xavier Malisse (Bel) 7-6 (8-6) (retd); 17-Richard Gasquet (Fra) bt Andreas Seppi (Ita) 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-1; 32-Alex Bogomolov Jr (Rus) bt Daniel Gimeno-Traver (Esp) 6-3, 6-2, 6-4; 24-Kei Nishikori (Jpn) bt Stephane Robert (Fra) 6-1, 7-6 (9-7), 6-0; Santiago Giraldo (Col) bt Matteo Viola (Ita) 6-4, 6-2, 6-1; 5-David Ferrer (Esp) bt Rui Machado (Por) 6-1, 6-4, 6-2; Philipp Petzschner (Ger) bt Lukas Rosol (Cze) 6-0, 6-0, 6-2.

Women’s singles: 12-Serena Williams (US) bt Tamira Paszek (Aut) 6-3, 6-2; 21-Ana Ivanovic (Srb) bt Lourdes Dominguez Lino (Esp) 6-0, 6-3; Zheng Jie (Chn) bt Madison Keys (US) 6-2, 6-1;18-Svetlana Kuznetsova (Rus) bt Chanelle Scheepers (SA) 6-3, 3-6, 6-0; Urszula Radwanska (Pol) bt Alison Riske (US) 6-4, 1-6, 6-2; Stephanie Dubois (Can) bt Elena Vesnina (Rus) 6-4, 1-6, 6-4; Michaella Krajicek (Ned) bt Kristina Barrois (Ger) 6-3, 7-6 (15-13); Ekaterina Makarova (Rus) bt Tamarine Tanasugarn (Tha) 6-0, 2-6, 6-0; 7-Vera Zvonareva (Rus) bt Alexandra Dulgheru (Rom) 7-6 (7-4), 6-7 (5-7), 6-3; 9-Marion Bartoli (Fra) bt Virginie Razzano (Fra) 7-5, 6-0; Sorana Cirstea (Rom) bt 6-Samantha Stosur (Aus) 7-6 (7-2), 6-3; 23-Roberta Vinci (Ita) bt Alexandra Cadantu (Rom) 6-0, 6-1; 25-Kaia Kanepi (Est) bt Johanna Larsson (Swe) 6-2, 6-4; Jamie Hampton (US) bt Mandy Minella (Lux) 6-1, 6-1; 4-Maria Sharapova (Rus) bt Gisela Dulko (Arg) 6-0, 6-1;  Jelena Dokic (Aus) bt Anna Chakvetadze (Rus) 6-2, 6-1; 17-Dominika Cibulkova (Svk) bt Magdalena Rybarikova (Svk) 6-3, 6-1; Greta Arn (Hun) bt Rebecca Marino (Can) 6-4, 6-2; 14-Sabine Lisicki (Ger) bt Stefanie Voegele (Sui) 6-2, 4-6, 6-4; Carla Suarez Navarro (Esp) bt Irina Begu (Rom) 6-1, 7-5; 15-Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (Rus) bt Klara Zakopalova (Cze) 7-6 (7-5), 6-1; 27-Maria Kirilenko (Rus) bt Jarmila Gajdosova (Aus) 6-4, 6-2; 2-Petra Kvitova (Cze) bt Vera Dushevina (Rus) 6-2, 6-0.

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