TOP seed and four-time champion Novak Djokovic lost just five games as he cruised into the third round of the Australian Open.
World number one Djokovic thrashed Russian Andrey Kuznetsov 6-0 6-1 6-4 in an hour and 24 minutes, with all three singles matches on Rod Laver Arena completed so quickly that a men’s doubles match was hastily added to the day schedule.
Djokovic won the first nine games against a hopelessly outclassed Kuznetsov, who received a sympathetic cheer when he finally troubled the scorers in the fourth game of the second set.
The former Wimbledon boys’ champion at least had the temerity to break Djokovic at the start of the third, but normal service was instantly resumed and Djokovic closed out the match in ruthless fashion.
“After my first-round match I was hoping to have this kind of performance, especially the opening two sets,” Djokovic said. “Everything went as I planned and wished and hopefully I can stay on this path. “(Kuznetsov) is a very talented player. He’s still young and he’s of the generation of my younger brother (Marko) who knows him well, so I spoke to him because I had not seen Kuznetsov play a lot.”
Djokovic has dropped just two sets over the first and second rounds since 2007, winning his first title at Melbourne Park in 2008 and lifting the trophy three years in succession from 2011.“Generally this is my most successful grand slam and the tournament where over the years I’ve performed my best tennis,” the 27-year-old said. “The reason? I think there is not one reason. A few reasons together.
“Probably the fact that I enjoy the conditions of play. Even though the last two years the courts have played faster, significantly faster than they were before, still I do enjoy being here in Australia. Some nice, positive, easy-going, sport-oriented energy going around. People appreciate the sport and make you feel good.
Defending champion Stan Wawrinka, who ended Djokovic’s 25-match unbeaten run in the quarter-finals last year, also safely reached the last 32, but needed two hours and 16 minutes to finally subdue the resistance of Romanian qualifier Marius Copil.
The first two sets took longer to complete than Djokovic’s entire match as they lasted an hour and 35 minutes, with Wawrinka winning both in tie-breaks before taking the third set 6-3.
SERENA WILLIAMS recovered from a slow start to reach the third round of the Australian Open for the 14th time in 15 appearances.
Williams, whose sole loss in the second round came on her debut in 1998, had to save three set points when trailing 5-3 in the opening set before reeling off 10 games in-a-row to beat Vera Zvonareva 7-5 6-0. “She started out really well, really played aggressive and I was a little too passive,” said Williams, who is seeking a 19th grand slam title to edge closer to record holder Steffi Graf, who won 22.
The much-anticipated clash between eighth seed Caroline Wozniacki and
two-time champion Victoria Azarenka did not quite live up to the hype, Azarenka edging a tough first set before winning 6-4 6-2 on Margaret Court Arena.
Azarenka is not seeded at a grand slam for the first time since 2007 after a 2014 season hampered by injury and the end of a long-term relationship, but always had the upper hand over fellow former world number one Wozniacki.
The 25-year-old raced into a 3-0 lead and although Wozniacki fought back to get level 4-4, Azarenka broke serve for the third time in the next game and served out to take the opening set after 58 minutes. Two more breaks of serve gave Azarenka command of the second set and after reaching match point with her first ace, the Belarusian put away a backhand volley to secure victory.