Roger Federer opened his 2013 Australian Open account with a 6-2 6-4 6-1 win over Frenchman Benoit Paire on Tuesday.
The Swiss veteran was expected to experience difficulties against his 23-year-old opponent, but the match was more of a practice session for Federer whose all-round game was extremely impressive.
The 31-year-old had the vocal support of the Rod Laver Arena crowd and hit 25 winners to Paire’s 43 unforced errors.
A title this year would see Federer become just the second man to win five Australian Open titles. Aussie Roy Emerson holds the record with six.
Another title contender, Andy Murray, also enjoyed a rather painless first-round meet. He defeated Robin Haase 6-3 6-1 6-3 in a swift 97 minute victory.
Murray often struggles with nerves, but unlike their last encounter when the Scot needed five long sets to defeat Haase, he had no trouble against the Dutchman in Melbourne.
Murray dropped a couple of service games, but was strong with his return and broke Haase’s serve eight times. Murray advances to face Portugal’s Joao Sousa.
Serena Williams avoided a major injury scare to fend off Edina Gallovits-Hall 6-0 6-0 in her first round match-up on Tuesday.
Williams is the women’s singles favourite, but received a big scare when she badly turned her ankle running for a wide forehand during the first set.
Her serve took over and she finished off the match easily, but did not move well afterwards.
“I think I was really, really close to panicking because a very similar thing happened to me last year, almost on the same side, the same shot," Williams said, recalling an injury she suffered at the Brisbane International last year.
“So I almost panicked, and I thought, I can't do that. I just have to really remain calm and think things through.”
That she did. Williams’ Romanian opponent failed to run the third seed between the corners and as a result suffered an embarrassing loss.
Williams confirmed she would be take part in the second-round, no matter what her health condition looks like.
Monday night wasn’t a great night for Australian performances.
Former world No.1 Lleyton Hewitt, making a strong comeback after a couple of injury affected seasons, looked like a prime candidate to do some Australian Open damage until he drew eighth seed Janko Tipsarevic in the first round.
Hewitt was remarkable for a man competing in his 17th Australian Open campaign and went down like the battler he is, 7-6 (7-4) 7-5 6-3.
Tipsarevic acknowledged Hewitt’s performance.
"I really had to produce some extraordinary tennis in order to win on the important points," Tipsarevic said.
"It's really amazing. I mean, you saw the game and ... I really had to dig deep, deep, deep, even in the game where I had to serve it out. And I was serving good.
Despite Hewitt claiming the Kooyong Classic last week in Sydney, he will once again fall from the top 100 after failing to defend the ranking points he earned last year when he made the last 16 stage of the tournament.
Finally, unseeded Aussie Matthew Ebden pushed Russian 23rd seed Mikhail Youzhny to the limit in an epic encounter 6-4 7-6 (7-0) 2-6 6-7 (7-4) 6-3 Monday.
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