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Tennis | Australian Open

Milos Raonic with Lukas Lacko © Gallo Images

Men's wrap, Day 2 - Jan 16

Defending champion Roger Federer got quickly into his majestic stride with a straight-sets win over Slovenian Aljaz Bedene in his opening match at the Australian Open on Tuesday.

The 36-year-old Swiss turned the evening clash on Rod Laver Arena into an exhibition as he breezed past Bedene with consummate ease 6-3 6-4 6-3.

A single break in each set was enough for Federer who looked in total control from beginning to end.

The world No 2, bidding for a 20th grand slam title after claiming his 18th here last year and 19th at Wimbledon, broke Bedene's serve in the fourth game of the first set in which he conceded only three points on his serve.

Federer pounced immediately at the start of the second to gain another break and cantered through the rest of the match against a player who he had never played before.

One member of the sell-out crowd yelled "Give him a chance Rog" late on but the Swiss was not listening and finished the match on Bedene's serve when his opponent netted a backhand.

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Six-times champion Novak Djokovic looked the part as he powered to a convincing first round victory at the Australian Open on Tuesday on his return from an elbow injury.

The 12-times Grand Slam champion, seeded an unfamiliar 14, was too strong for American Donald Young, winning 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 in 1hr 51min on Margaret Court Arena.

The Serbian former world No 1 has been out of action for six months.

But he looked in good shape as he worked his way into the second round where he will play either France's Gael Monfils or Spanish qualifier Jaume Munar.

Djokovic, wearing a flesh-coloured protective guard on his right serving elbow, saluted the cheering crowd as he won on his sixth match point.

It was an impressive performance, with the Serb breaking Young's left-handed serve six times, hitting 33 winners and conceding only 27 unforced errors.

"There is no better place to start than here in Australia, I love coming here, I love playing here," Djokovic told the crowd.

"It's been a long period without any official matches but I spent as much quality time as I could with my family.

"I wanted to start with the right intensity, which I have, I played perfect tennis in the first couple of sets and Donald came back in the third set."


Stan Wawrinka was upbeat after winning a tough first match since knee surgery last year, saying there was still pain but it was getting better.

The three-time Grand Slam winner had a mid-match wobble before eliminating Lithuania's Ricardas Berankis 6-3, 6-4, 2-6, 7-6 (7/2) in 2hr 47min on Hisense Arena.

It was a confidence booster for the 2014 Melbourne Park champion, who had a troubled lead-in to the year's opening Grand Slam, pulling out of an exhibition event in Abu Dhabi on his way to Australia.

The Swiss star, who defeated Rafael Nadal to win the 2014 Australian Open, has slipped to nine in the world rankings, having not played since his first-round Wimbledon loss to Russian Daniil Medvedev six months ago.

But Wawrinka was heartened by the first examination of his still painful knee at the year's opening Grand Slam.

"It's great to be back. It's great to win, for sure," he said.

"It was a tough one in all aspects of the game, but in general, I'm really happy to get through a match like that, to fight the way I did today, to win the match like this."

Wawrinka admitted he was still experiencing pain but was relieved his knee had stood up to the physical demands.

"I still have some pain. It depends the way I'm moving, how I push on it," he said.

"In general, it's going the right direction. That's the best news. To see that I can play a match with the stress, back being tight, without hesitation.

"The knee didn't move even after three hours, so that's great."

The Swiss star, who next plays American Tennys Sandgren, said his plan was to keep going as far as he can to raise his fitness levels.

"I don't think I will change much. The plan is to play a bit more if the knee is keeping (together) because I didn't play for six months," he said.

"First was to come here, see if I was able to play. I won the first match. I'm going to focus on the tournament.

"I know that after that, I have a lot of work to do. I need to be really patient because I have a lot of fitness and practice to do if I want to get back to my level."


Young German star Alexander Zverev needed a hard-fought three sets to get through his opening encounter and spoke of his search for greater consistency.

The world No.4 spent 2hr 22min on Rod Laver Arena before claiming a 6-1, 7-6 (7/5), 7-5 win over 73rd-ranked Italian Thomas Fabbiano.

Zverev, at the vanguard of the "NextGen" brigade, will face fellow German Peter Gojowczyk in the second round.

While the 20-year-old won five titles and was one of just four players to beat Roger Federer last year, he has yet to get beyond the fourth round at a Grand Slam.

"I think last year I was pretty consistent, apart from the end of the year," Zverev said.

"I think my game is getting more consistent with age as well. I think that's also something that is a factor of maturity.

"So I'm just trying to get better every single day, and that's what I'm here for."

Zverev said he was expecting a tough scrap against Fabbiano.

"That's what he does. That's what he's known for on tour, to be competitive, to fight for every single point, play well from the baseline," he said.

"He's like a Diego Schwartzman-type of player. So they are always not easy to beat, especially in first rounds.

"I was a bit surprised with his serve and how well he was serving. But apart from that, I was looking forward to a tough match."

Zverev served up 17 aces among his 47 winners and broke Fabbiano's serve five times, while saving 12 break points.

He said of his next opponent: "He's (Gojowczyk) someone who plays really well on the hard courts.

"I think he played well in Auckland, as well. Obviously, a player that's very well informed."

Zverev was ousted in the third round in Melbourne in 2017 and could face a potential third-round clash against his older brother Mischa if he gets past Gojowczyk.


Former world No 3 Milos Raonic was sent tumbling out of the Australian Open first round by Lukas Lacko, the Canadian's earliest grand slam exit since the 2011 French Open.

On the comeback trail after a 2017 season disrupted by injury, Raonic looked off the pace as he was picked apart 6-7(5) 7-5 6-4 7-6(4) by the 86th ranked Slovak on showcourt two.

Raonic had reached the last eight in his last three visits to Melbourne, making the semifinals in 2016, and his ability to fire down a thunderous ace kept him in the contest until the fourth set tiebreak.

Two more aces, taking his match tally to 36, briefly gave 22nd seed Raonic a 4-3 lead but he was unable to match Lacko's accuracy and mobility and the Slovak progressed to meet Argentine Nicolas Kicker or local Jordan Thompson in round two.


Seventh seed David Goffin wore down German qualifier Mathias Bachinger in four sets in his opening match.

The Belgian lost an opening set tiebreak before reeling off a 6-7 (3/7), 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 win in just over two-and-a-half hours on showcourt three.

The diminutive Goffin, who upset Roger Federer before losing to Grigor Dimitrov in the ATP Finals in London in November, will next play Frenchman Julien Benneteau.


Austrian fifth seed Dominic Thiem had a trouble-free straight sets win over Argentina's Guido Pella to open his campaign.

Thiem, whose build-up to the year's opening Grand Slam was disrupted by a lingering virus, downed the 56th-ranked Pella 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 in 2hr 16min in a night match on Show Court Two.

Thiem, who reached the semifinals at Roland Garros in 2016, will play American qualifier Denis Kudla in the second round.

Additional reporting by Reuters


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