Australian Open: Federer and Djokovic off to a flyer
Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic gave early notice of their intention to halt the “Rafa Slam” with impressive first-round wins at the Australian Open.
Rafael Nadal's quest to become the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to hold all four grand slam titles simultaneously has captured the imagination but Federer and Djokovic will again offer the greatest challenge.
The Swiss and the Serb were in imperious form, Federer cruising past Lukas Lacko 6-1 6-1 6-3 and Djokovic cruising to a 6-1 6-3 6-1 win over Marcel Granollers in a match which finished after midnight local time.
Record 16-time grand slam winner Federer was delighted with his display.
“I thought I played great,” he said afterwards. “I thought it was a good match. I don't think he played too bad himself. I saw some talent in him and that's why I was really happy I chose the tactic early on to pressure him.
“That it worked was great and I'm obviously very happy.”
Next up for Federer is Frenchman Gilles Simon, who has won both their previous two meetings.
“That doesn't affect my preparation,” Federer insisted. “Maybe I will look just a bit more into what has worked and what has not worked against him in the past.”
Djokovic was arguably even better than Federer in the final match of the day on Rod Laver Arena.
He claimed the Granollers serve seven times and never let the Spaniard settle.
Eighth seed Andy Roddick beat Jan Hajek 6-1 6-2 6-2, while Gael Monfils staged an astonishing recovery from two sets and 5-2 down to overcome Holland's Thiemo De Bakker.
There were two notable upsets early on day one with 18th seed Sam Querrey and 23rd seed Nikolay Davydenko both going out.
Querrey fell in a marathon five-set contest against Lukasz Kubot while former world number three Davydenko was ousted by Florian Mayer 6-3 4-6 7-6 (7/4) 6-4.