Somdev sails into round two

Somdev sails into round two

Proving that off-field issues have not affected him, Somdev Devvarman, who sauntered to a straight-set win over world number 78 Bjorn Phau in the first round of the Australian Open, said that he was actually “enjoying” the dispute with the AITA.

Somdev scored a comfortable 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 win over his German opponent making a statement of sorts. He is leading a group of 11 Indian players, who are demanding better playing conditions in Davis Cup.

“I’ve been enjoying the dispute, speaking honestly. It’s a first in a long time that all the players on the Indian tennis scene, pretty much, are on really good terms with each other,” Somdev said after the match. “As far as the players are concerned, we know we’re trying to do the best thing for ourselves and our country and give future players the best conditions,” he added.

Somdev will next take on Poland’s 24th seed Jerzy Janowicz, who beat Simone Bolelli of Italy 7-5, 6-4, 6-3.

Somdev converted two of the three break point chances that came his way and also hit a couple of aces to comfortably move ahead in the opening set which lasted for 31 minutes.

In the second set, which lasted for 44 minutes, Somdev double faulted once but won two of the four break point chances to forge ahead.

Somdev took another 35 minutes to wrap up the match as he broke the German twice to blow away his challenge.

The Indian said when he steps on court, everything else becomes secondary. “It’s challenging but it’s a good time and it’s not playing in my mind at all. It’s great, actually,” he said, adding that there was amazing support for his cause. “It’s the first time I’ve had 15 text messages after a match — all of them from India players. That shows a lot of support for what we are trying to accomplish. That’s important,” the 27-year-old said.

Djokovic advances

Novak Djokovic served up only flashes of his best tennis but took a comfortable first step on the path he hopes will lead to an unprecedented hat-trick of titles at Melbourne Park in two weeks' time.

Perhaps, keeping energy in reserve for the battles that lie ahead, the world number one's workmanlike 6-2, 6-4, 7-5 victory over Frenchman Paul-Henri Mathieu on Monday summed up a day where the year's first Grand Slam failed to really fire.
 "It was a good performance for a first round," said the top seed, who will play American Ryan Harrison in the second round.

While Djokovic only roused himself when necessary, Maria Sharapova was ruthless as she swept aside any fears about her fitness with a thumping 6-0, 6-0 win over compatriot Olga Puchkova on Rod Laver Arena. American Venus Williams and China's Li Na also enjoyed emphatic wins to breeze into the second round, while in-form fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska extended her perfect start to the year to 10 matches.

Upsets are often the catalyst that jolt a tournament into life but Argentina's Juan Monaco was the first seed to fall in the early evening and his 7-6, 6-1, 6-1 defeat was as much down to hand and leg injuries as Russian Andrey Kuznetsov. Lleyton Hewitt did his best to produce another shock in front of a partisan night crowd but eighth seed Janko Tipsarevic brought a rapid end to the Australian's 17th appearance at his home open with a 7-6, 7-5, 6-3 victory.

David Ferrer duly continued the form which won him a fourth Auckland Open title on Saturday to beat Olivier Rochus 6-3, 6-4, 6-2, while fifth seed Tomas Berdych also progressed with a 6-3, 7-5, 6-3 win over American Michael Russell.

Despite the record temperatures which have gripped Australia for the last couple of weeks, the Australian Open opened to a mild morning in Melbourne.

There was nothing mild about Sharapova's demolition of Puchkova on Rod Laver Arena, however, and the Russian powered her way into the second round in just 55 minutes.

Venus Williams could meet Sharapova in the third round and proved she might be a handful for the second seed by winning 12 successive games to beat Kazakh Galina Voskoboeva 6-1, 6-0.

It was 10 years ago that Williams lost her only Australian Open final to her sister Serena, who gets her campaign underway on Tuesday.

Pole Radwanska, winner of back-to-back warm-up events in Sydney and Auckland, battled through a tricky first set and whipped through the second to beat Australian wildcard Bojana Bobusic 7-5, 6-0. Li lost to Radwanska in Sydney last week to end her own winning streak at eight matches, but the former French Open champion continued to thrive under the guidance of her new coach with a 6-1, 6-3 victory over Sesil Karatantcheva.

Mental fragility has contributed to Sam Stosur's poor showings at her home Grand Slam and the ninth seed again failed to convince in a 7-6, 6-3 win over Chang Kai-chen of Taiwan.

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