Halep felled; Federer through

Halep felled; Federer through

Halep felled; Federer through

Simona Halep fell at the Australian Open's first hurdle for a second straight year on Monday while defending champion Angelique Kerber survived a mighty scare from Lesia Tsurenko.

Halep, hampered by a nagging knee problem, lost 6-3, 6-1 to American Shelby Rogers even as Kerber battled her nerves and blew a match point in the second set before finally overcoming Tsurenko 6-2, 5-7, 6-2 to reach the second round.

The top seeded German was starting the defence of a Grand Slam title for the first time and made harder and longer work than she might have of advancing to a meeting with compatriot Carina Witthoeft.

Halep, ranked fourth at Melbourne Park, became the first seed to be bundled out of the season-opening Slam, falling to the power-hitting American in 75 minutes.
She sought medical advice after the first set and was seen flexing her left knee throughout the second.

Roger Federer made a winning return to competitive tennis after six months out of the game, thrilling a packed Rod Laver Arena as he beat qualifier Juergen Melzer 7-5, 3-6, 6-2, 6-2 en route to the second round.

The Swiss had to battle hard throughout the match against his fellow 35-year-old and only pulled clear of his dogged opponent when the Austrian tired in the final set.

Even Federer could be forgiven a little rustiness after his prolonged absence due to a knee injury and he made 36 unforced errors in his two hours and six minutes on court.

There were, though, plenty of reminders of the brilliant shot-making that have helped Federer to 17 Grand Slam titles and his 46 to 26 advantage over Melzer in the winner count told the tale of what was ultimately a comfortable win.

The crowd cheered every one to the rafters and, while that pleased Federer, he was clearly just delighted to be back doing what he does best.

"I definitely see things a bit different when you've been gone for a long time or when you've come back from injury," he told reporters.

"It was great to be out there. I really enjoyed myself, even though it wasn't so simple.”

Seeded 17th, Federer has much tougher battles ahead as he continues his bid for a fifth Melbourne Park title.

Next up in the second round on Wednesday, however, is another qualifier in American Noah Rubin.

Having got his first tour match since his semi-final loss to Milos Raonic at Wimbledon in July out of the way, Federer thought his next encounter would not be quite so difficult. "This match tonight was more based on me, how I'm going to cope with my comeback and my match," he said.

"But I'm happy with how it went. I think from here on it's only going to get easier." 
Federer’s compatriot Stan Wawrinka survived a scare from Slovakia's Martin Klizan on Monday, fighting back from a break down in the final set to move into the second round with a 4-6, 6-4, 7-5, 4-6, 6-4 victory.

It took the world number four more than three hours to subdue his left-handed opponent to cries of "Allez Stan" from the crowd in the Margaret Court arena.

For long periods of the match Weawrinka was far from his best with errors flowing from his racket.

But as a pink dusk descended, Wawrinka slowly found the range on his groundstrokes to move ahead, although the outcome remained in the balance until the final few minutes.

Big-hitting Spaniard Garbine Muguruza struggled with injury as she battled into the second round of the women’s singles with a 7-5, 6-4 win over New Zealand's Marina Erakovic.

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