Djokovic, Wawrinka and Azarenka powers to 2nd round of Australian Open

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Melbourne, Jan 20: World number one Novak Djokovic and defending champion Stan Wawrinka showed no mercy in powering through to the Australian Open second round today as unseeded dark horse Victoria Azarenka won her grudge match.

Japanese fifth seed Kei Nishikori and women's fourth seed Petra Kvitova also stayed on course, with 18-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams opening her Melbourne Park account later Tuesday.

File photo of Novak Djokovic

Serbian top seed Djokovic, gunning for a fifth Australian title, found his groove early against Slovenia's Aljaz Bedene to post a commanding 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 win.

"For a first round performance it was pretty good, obviously I still need to work on a few things, I'm still developing my game," said Djokovic, who lost to Wawrinka in the quarter-finals last year.

The Swiss fourth seed went on to stun Rafael Nadal and win his maiden Grand Slam, and he is keen to repeat the heroics again this year. He got his title defence off to to a solid start with a 6-1, 6-4, 6-2 mauling of Turkey's Marsel Ilhan, encountering few problems.

"It was great to be back on Rod Laver Arena again, it brings back so many memories from last year," he said.

"It was such an amazing two weeks last year so it was great to come back here and I am pleased with my game in general and I'm excited to start again. "I can feel that I have a lot of support here," he said.

"But it's just one match, now I need to be ready for the next one."

Roger Federer, Nadal and Maria Sharapova all played Monday and easily progressed. Nishikori, who lost to Marin Cilic in last year's US Open final and is touted as a future major champion, showed his mettle to beat Nicolas Almagro 6-4, 7-6 (7/1), 6-2. The Spaniard is a former world number nine and the Japanese star said it was a good workout.

"Obviously, it was a really tough, tough first match. He could be seeded player, and I know he was injured, but still it was a tough match," he said.

AFP

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