Roger Federer in fine fettle for Australian Open title defence

18 January, 2018, 04:24 | Author: Laura Christensen
  • Caroline Wozniacki wipes sweat from her face while playing Jana Fett at the Australian Open. – AP

Returning from a lengthy injury-laden spell last year, the Swiss maestro secured his fifth Australian Open title - seven years after his last - to take his Grand Slam count to an impressive 18.

"I started a little slower than usual (this season) but we wanted to do things the right way".

Fourth seeded Ukrainian Elina Svitolina, who won the lead-up Brisbane International after picking up five WTA Tour titles previous year, is also in action, playing Czech Katerina Siniakova. "That's all I'm really focusing on", he said about his drive to break his Grand Slam duck. "I played flawless tennis, like I never stopped".

They're in the same half of the draw - along with No 4 Alexander Zverev, No 5 Dominc Thiem, No 7 David Goffin and No 9 Stan Wawrinka, the 2014 Australian Open victor who is also returning from injury.

The 16th-seeded Isner lost 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 to Matt Ebden.

Her worst defeat, however, came in the French Open final against Jelena Ostapenko - she failed to close out a final she had led by a set and 3-0 and finally lost in three sets giving the Latvian the chance to win at Roland Garros as an unseeded player.

Men's fourth seed Alexander Zverev won his opening-round match in straight sets. Nadal, a beaten finalist in Melbourne a year ago, downed Victor Estrella Burgos of the Dominican Republic 6-1, 6-1, 6-1.

Wimbledon champion Garbine Mugurza, No. 6 Karolina Pliskova, No. 8 Caroline Garcia, No. 9 Johanna Konta, No. 16 Elena Vesnina, No. 18 Ash Barty, No. 26 Agnieszka Radwanska and No. 28 Mirjana Lucic-Baroni also advanced. "I feel like maybe somebody like a Rafa, with the year that he's had, and Novak with the six titles he's had here, even if it's unknown how he's feeling, they could very well be the favorites, too".

Like and other top players, he said he's going to be smarter about his schedule now that he's among the elite on the tour.

Only last September, Americans filled all four semi-final slots at their own end-of-year Slam, so the crash on Monday was loud and painful.

But the Spaniard, who was beaten by Roger Federer in last year's final, got off to a ideal start and raced to victory over the 37-year-old.

That loss was part of the process that Sharapova believes has set her up for this season.

Williams, the beaten finalist previous year when playing her sister Serena, and the oldest player in the draw this time at 37, said after the unseeded Belinda Bencic beat her 6-3, 7-5: "I don't think I played a bad match. But it felt pretty routine today".



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