From the news

Djokovic Makes Strong Start To Title Defence

  • dgec
  • 17 January 2012
  • 10:01

Italian Paolo Lorenzi made a promising start against World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, breaking for a 2-1 lead on Tuesday afternoon in Melbourne, but his hopes for an upset were quickly extinguished. The defending champion prevented the World No. 109 from winning another game, rolling to a 6-2, 6-0, 6-0 victory after one hour and 32 minutes.

The 24-year-old Serbian is bidding to win his third straight major, after his triumphs at Wimbledon and the US Open (d. Nadal), and is also attempting to become the fourth man in the Open Era to win three or more titles at the Australian Open. He won his first Grand Slam title at this tournament in 2008 (d. Tsonga).

Djokovic began his phenomenal 2011 season by reclaiming the Australian Open title (d. Murray), sparking a 41-0 run through the first five months, and once again begins his ATP World Tour campaign at the season’s first major.

“Obviously I want to get a good start of the year in my first official match in this season,” said Djokovic. “I’m satisfied with the overall performance today. It took me a couple games to get into the right rhythm. It’s a bit difficult conditions. I think it was really the hottest day since I’ve arrived here, so trying to get used to that. But I think I played well after the first set was finished.”

He next faces 56th-ranked Colombian Santiago Giraldo, who dismissed another Italian, Matteo Viola, 6-4, 6-2, 6-1 in one hour and 41 minutes. Djokovic recorded a straight-sets win over Giraldo in their one previous meeting in 2007 at Roland Garros.

Another Serbian in the Top 10 of the South African Airways ATP Rankings, World No. 9 Janko Tipsarevic, opened with a 5-7, 7-6(12), 6-3, 6-4 over Russian Dmitry Tursunov. Tipsarevic needed 82 minutes to prevail in the 26-point second set tie-break, then needed one break in each of the following sets to close out the match after three hours and 13 minutes.

Tipsarevic will next come up against 19-year-old Australian James Duckworth, who defeated Estonian Jurgen Zopp 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 in a first-round meeting between Grand Slam debutants.

“This is the biggest moment in my career,” said Duckworth. “I've always dreamt about playing the Australian Open in front of my home fans and my family and friends. It's an unbelievable feeling.” Duckworth came to Melbourne at a career-high No. 250 ranking, after notching his first tour-level win two weeks ago in in Brisbane (d. Mahut).

A number of Frenchmen enjoyed success in their first-round matches Tuesday. Gael Monfils, a finalist in Doha in the opening week of the season (l. to Tsonga), advanced with a 7-6(5), 6-3, 6-3 win over Australian Marinko Matosevic. Meanwhile, Edouard Roger-Vasselin won the opening set 7-6(6) when opponent Xavier Malisse retired from the match.

Richard Gasquet and Michael Llodra both needed four sets to get through their openers. The 17th-seeded Gasquet defeated Italian Andreas Seppi 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-1, and Llodra accounted for Latvian Ernests Gulbis 2-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-2. Both Frenchmen created 17 break point opportunities, with Gasquet capitalising seven times and Llodra six.

Gasquet will play Andrey Golubev for a place in the third round after the Kazakhstani ousted two-time Grand Slam semi-finalist Mikhail Youzhny 7-5, 6-7(4), 6-4, 4-6, 6-3.

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