Melbourne: Big names like Novak Djokovic, Maria Sharapova and Venus Williams took quick victories to reach the second round of the Australian Open here.
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Top-ranked Djokovic started his bid for a third consecutive title with a 6-2, 6-4, 7-5 victory against Paul-Henri Mathieu of France. The Serbian faced only three break points in the match and saved them all, reports Xinhua.
Djokovic`s five-set victory against Rafael Nadal in the 2012 final that lasted almost six hours is already part of Australian Open folklore. He tore off his shirt and flexed his muscles after the marathon win last year, and is hoping to add another chapter by becoming the first man to win three consecutive Australian titles in the Open era.
Nine others have won back-to-back titles and none have claimed three in a row since the Open era started in 1968.
"Any achievement, especially if it`s part of history, would mean a lot to me," Djokovic said.
"I love this sport. This sport is my life since I was four years old. I try to generate this great desire to play this sport from that love. I think it`s too early, again, to speak eventually about the title because there are many contenders to win this title."
Former World No.1 Venus Willams played with power and determination, thrashing young Galina Voskoboeva 6-1, 6-0.
Williams skipped last year`s Australian Open due to illness and was warmly welcomed with applause as she entered the court. She had the biggest jump of any of the top players in 2012, moving from outside the top 100 to finish the year at No.24.
Williams, who has won seven major titles, said she was happy with the match statistics, particularly her serve, so early in the season.
Williams could meet second seeded Maria Sharapova in the third round, who finished her first match of the year in 55 minutes to crush compatriot Olga Puchkova 6-0, 6-0.
The No.2 ranked Russian, who lost to Victoria Azarenka in the final here last year, faced only two break points in the match and saved both in the first game, before going on a 12-game roll to earned herself a double-bagel.
China`s World No.6 Li Na overpowered Sesil Karatantcheva of Kazakhstan 6-1, 6-3. The 2011 Australian Open finalist broke her opponent four times in the match, hitting 21 winners to just six for Karatantcheva, and set up a match against Olga Govorstova of Belarus.
Zheng Jie then was pushed to the limit in the first round by countrywoman and Australian Open wildcard Zhang Yuxuan, winning 6-1, 3-6, and 6-4.