(January 18, 2016) World No. ones and Australian Open defending champions Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams made straight set starts in Melbourne on Monday. Novak Djokvic dominated teenager Chung Hyeon of South Korea 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 while Williams stopped No. 34 ranked Camila Giorgi 6-4, 7-5.
Coming into Melbourne, knee inflammation forced Serena Williams to withdraw from Hopman Cup. The 21-time major champion had not played a competitive match since she lost in the semifinals of last year’s U.S. Open, falling short or claiming a calendar Grand Slam.
Williams responded to media questions about her knee: “It’s great. It was an hour and 43 minutes and I didn’t feel it at all.”
“I think I served well today,” Williams said. “I think, you know, I got broken once, but other than that, I was able to stay focused on that part. And I was able to serve really well and that really helped me.”
Williams gave herself an “A for effort,” for her win.
“I have played her (Giorgi) a couple of times before, and just wanted to be as consistent as I could.”
Williams has won the Australian Open six times.
Djokovic who is trying to win a sixth title at Melbourne had to beat the heat as well his opponent, with temperatures in the 90’s (93 Fahrenheit).
“Having to play somebody for the first time, especially somebody that is as young as him, he’s only 19, you know, it can be tricky,” Djokovic said. “Obviously getting out on the court and playing against a player that has nothing to lose.
“His baseline game is very good, very solid, especially from the backhand side. Very flat, strong backhand, solid shots, both angles. Once he gets into the good rhythm, he can serve well.
“He’s a pretty tall guy. For somebody of his height, he moves very well, as well. He can play equally well from defense to offense. And he’s one of the players that people are talking about as a potential top player in the future.
“He’s got that potential, no question about it. As I said on the court, he needs experience, he needs more time.”
Chung said: “Great honor to play with Novak. He’s No. 1 in the world. He’s my idol. It was good experience to play with him.
“I’m just trying to fight every point, because too tough to win one games. Great experience. Great test to start season.”
Four-time Australian Open champion Roger Federer had an easy time with Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia 6-2, 6-1, 6-2 in the night session. In the process, the world No. 3 is playing his 65 straight major, a record.
“That was a good match,” Federer said. “I’m really pleased how I was able to play. Definitely gives me a bit of a lift in confidence, you know, because this year I haven’t been able to play properly yet. I mean, I had some decent matches in Brisbane, but it was all under, you know, sort of a cloud knowing that I wasn’t 100%.
“But this was a match where I was able to focus, you know, on my game, on tactics, all that stuff. So it was nice to play that way.”
Federer will play Alexandr Dolgopolov in the second round.
“I think it’s going to be very tough, to be honest,” Federer said. “I’ve practiced with Dolgopolov in the off-season in Dubai. Had some great practice sessions together there, this year and last year. I know him very well. This is going to be a different challenge than the first round. This was more of an unexperienced player today, but still dangerous and still a good player.
“But Dolgopolov is a different player, a different level. He’s been there before. He’s got the fitness, the power, the speed, tennis IQ, all that. It’s going to be a big challenge.
“Curious to find out if it’s going to be day or night because that plays a big part in how it plays out. I feel it plays very different day to night, the conditions. Yeah, I’m ready for a very tough match, to be quite honest.”
No. 4 seed Agnieszka Radwanska is into the second round at Melbourne Park with a 6-2, 6-3 win over American Christina McHale as is two-time major champion Petra Kvitova. Kvitova, who had to withdraw from the Shenzhen Open, a warm-up event before the Australian Open, defeated Thai qualifier Luksika Kumkhum 6-3, 6-1. The Czech lost to her in three sets back in 2014.
Kvitova, who had to withdraw from a warmup tournament in China because of a stomach virus, said her preparation was disrupted and she was nervous ahead of the rematch with Kumkhum.
In the night session, Maria Sharapova had no problems against Nao Hibino 6-1, 6-3. Sharapova did not play a warm-up tournament before the Australian Open due to a left forearm injury.
There were some upsets on the women’s side. No. 16 Caroline Wozniacki lost to 76th-ranked Yulia Putintseva 1-6, 7-6(3), 6-4, No. 17 Sara Errani fell to Margarita Gasparyan 1-6, 7-5, 6-1, No. 22 Andrea Petkovic lost to Elizaveta Kulichkova 7-5, 6-4, 2013 quarterfinalist 24th seed Sloane Stephens had no answers Chinese qualifier Wang Qiang who won 6-3, 6-3, 25th seed, Australian Sam Stosur was beaten by qualifier Kristyna Pliskova 6-4, 7-6(6), 26th seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova was eliminated by American Lauren Davis 1-6, 6-3, 6-4 and No. 27 Anna Karolina Schmiedlova went down 6-3, 6-3 to Daria Kasatkina in the first round.
No. 7 Kei Nishikori beat Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-4, 6-3, 6-3. He’ll play friend Austin Krajicek in the next round.
“Actually, it’s great to see him, especially on Grand Slam,” Nishikori said of the American. “We can play each other it’s great because, you know, because we train together when we are really young, like when we were junior(s).
“It’s going to be not an easy one.”
“It’s always tough to play with friends. Actually tougher than maybe top 10 players.”
Other men’s seeds advancing included No. 6 seed Tomas Berdych and No. 15 David Goffin. No. 22 seed Ivo Karlovic retired from his match with a left knee injury trailing Federico Delbonis 7-6 (4), 6-4, 2-1.
In the upset of the day on the men’s side of the draw, 19-year-old wild card Noah Rubin from Long Island, New York, ranked 328th in the world dismissed 17th seed Benoit Paire 7-6(4), 7-6(6), 7-6(5) for his first main draw win at a major
More to follow….