News ID: 237402
Published: 0345 GMT January 15, 2019

Djokovic begins seventh Australian Open title bid with romp

Djokovic begins seventh Australian Open title bid with romp
Novak Djokovic hits a backhand shot during his Australian Open first-round victory at Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne, Australia, on January 15, 2019.
LUKAS COCH/EPA

Top seed Novak Djokovic started his bid for a record seventh Australian Open title with a straight-set win over American qualifier Mitchell Krueger.

The 31-year-old Serb, chasing a 15th Grand Slam title and third in a row, won 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 on Rod Laver Arena, BBC Sport reported.

He will face French wildcard Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the second round.

"He was very competitive and I had to work hard. I enjoyed it, hope you did too," said Djokovic, who was appearing in his 300th Grand Slam match.

Tsonga was on the losing side in the 2008 Australian Open final as Djokovic won his first of 14 Grand Slams.

Former world number four Tsonga missed seven months of 2018 after knee surgery and needed a wildcard to get into the tournament after his ranking dropped outside the top 200.

But the 33-year-old will be a dangerous opponent, having reached the semifinals in his comeback tournament in Brisbane and beaten Martin Klizan of Slovakia in straight sets in the first round in Melbourne.

 

Halep survives

 

World number one Simona Halep battled through to second round with a come-from-behind win over Kaia Kanepi to stay in the tournament.

Th Romanian had to dig deep against the woman who defeated her in last year's US Open first round, eventually winning 6-7 (2/7), 6-4, 6-2 victory, AFP reported.

The French Open champion was a finalist at Melbourne Park last year and will be looking for a major improvement to go deep this year after such a shaky start against the world number 71.

"It is always difficult to play Kaia," said Halep, who raged in frustration at her support team at times before finally taking control of the match in the third set.

The 27-year-old top seed showed no sign of the back injury that ended her season prematurely last year, instead she simply struggled to cope with the Estonian's powerful groundstrokes.

Halep came to Melbourne Park on a five-match losing streak, equaling the worst run of her career.

She hopes to make amends after losing an epic final to Caroline Wozniacki last year in a defeat she said "broke me a little bit" until she claimed her own maiden Slam at Roland Garros.

 

Ruthless Serena

 

Serena Williams also stormed into the second round as she began her bid for a 24th Grand Slam title with a win over Tatjana Maria.

The 37-year-old American, whose 23rd major title came in Melbourne when she was pregnant two years ago, won 6-0, 6-2 in 49 minutes on Rod Laver Arena.

Williams holds the most Open era singles titles, but is looking to equal Margaret Court's all-time record of 24.

It was her first Grand Slam match since her rant against umpire Carlos Ramos at last year's US Open final.

Asked if she had discussed coaching signals with Patrick Mouratoglou after the warning from Ramos that sparked the furor in New York, Williams said, "I literally have no comment."

The seven-time Australian Open winner, who will face Canada's Eugenie Bouchard next, wore compression stockings and said she was "definitely still concerned" about the dangers of deep vein thrombosis.

"I have had some issues and they're not done," said Williams, who experienced potentially life-threatening blood clots after giving birth to daughter Alexis Olympia.

"It's just something I have to do for pretty much probably the rest of my career, we'll see. But I'm always at the doctor.

"With DVTs, it's very scary. I know a lot of people – they're very common – have them. Especially for me, it's incredibly frightening.

"I lay on the side of precaution as opposed to not."

 

   
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