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24 February 2024

Federer, Serena live up to star billing

Federer defeated Igor Andreev after a sluggish start. (AFP)


Top seeds Roger Federer and Serena Williams lived up to their star billing yesterday by charging into the Australian Open second round, with Venus Williams and Novak Djokovic hot on their heels.

The Swiss world number one swept home after a sluggish start to eliminate Russian Igor Andreev in four sets while Serena wasted little energy in demolishing Pole Urszula Radwanska 6-2, 6-1.

Also through was in-form Russian Nikolay Davydenko, who laid down the gauntlet by saying the Federer/Nadal dominance was over.

Tenth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga powered on but eighth ranked Swede Robin Soderling was sent packing, the highest seed to fall so far.

World number three Djokovic, the 2008 champion, was tested in the first set by Spaniard Daniel Gimeno-Traver before taking control and racing to a 7-5, 6-3, 6-2 win.

On the women's side, eighth seed Jelena Jankovic and fellow Serb Ana Ivanovic also made the next round. Federer said it was a good opening test.

"Tough match, I knew from the start it was not going be an easy one," said the 15-time Grand Slam winner after winning 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 (7/2), 6-0.

"A few hiccups, but I think those are more due to his good play and because of also playing against the wind. So it was a good first round for me."

Serena, who is searching for her 12th Grand Slam singles title to join Billie Jean King as one of the all-time greats, was in fine form despite having her right thigh heavily strapped.

"Just supportive and preventive," she said, referring to her hamstring.

Williams, a four-time champion in Melbourne, broke Radwanska twice in the first set and three times in the second on her way to a comfortable victory.

"The scoreline seemed to be easy, but it was a long match out there," said the American.

"Well, not long, but it was tough points. So I was just happy to get it over with."

On a blustery but dry day, with organisers trying to clear a backlog of matches unable to finish due to rain on Monday, sister Venus also made short work of her oppenent, crushing Czech Lucie Safarova 6-2, 6-2.

"I just wanted to stay focused and execute my game – a great way to start," said the sixth seeded Venus, whose best effort in Melbourne was runner-up in 2003 to Serena.

Jankovic also progressed with an easy 6-4, 6-0 win over Romania's Monica Niculescu, while fellow Serb and 20th seed Ana Ivanovic was another motoring through.

Other women staying alive included Australian 13th seed Samantha Stosur, who struggled past Chinese qualifier Han Xinyun in three sets, French 11th seed Marion Bartoli and 26th seed Aravane Rezai, who beat India's Sania Mirza. Davydenko, known as "Mr Invisible' for his low public profile, was the first top 10 man into the second round yesterday, dropping just four games in his 6-1, 6-0, 6-3 rout of Germany's Dieter Kindlmann yesterday.

He is scheduled to meet Federer in the quarter-finals.

Other top names going through were 10th seed Tsonga, who overcame Sergiy Stakhovsky in straight sets and French 12th seed Gael Monfils, who wrapped up his rain-delayed match against Australian Matthew Ebden 6-4, 6-4, 6-4.

Spanish ninth seed Fernando Verdasco was another staying in the hunt after a tough four-set encounter with Australian Carsten Ball.


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