MELBOURNE: Novak Djokovic revealed his deep desire to create history with the first hat-trick of Australian Open titles after cruising through his opening match yesterday.
The Serbian world number one was in imperious form as he tossed aside Frenchman Paul-Henri Mathieu in straight sets in just one hour and 42 minutes on Rod Laver Arena to waltz into the second-round of the year’s first Grand Slam event. Djokovic, bidding to become the first player in the Open era to win three consecutive Australian Opens, was in a different league to the 60th-ranked Mathieu, running through to his 15th straight match win in Melbourne.
“Any achievement, especially if it’s part of history, would mean a lot to me,” said Djokovic after downing Mathieu, 6-2, 6-4, 7-5. “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.”
Sharapova, Li fire up tournament with wins
Maria Sharapova and Li Na crushed hapless opponents to storm into the second-round, making their intentions clear as they bid for further Grand Slam glory.
Reigning French Open champion Sharapova was at her dominant best against fellow Russian Olga Puchkova on Rod Laver Arena, humiliating her in a rare double bagel. Sharapova, the champion in 2008, powered through 6-0, 6-0 in just 55 minutes and will next play Misaki Doi of Japan.
“I didn’t want to focus on the fact I hadn’t played a lot of matches, just wanted to focus on what was ahead of me and really concentrate and be aggressive,” said Sharapova, who has won four Grand Slams. “I also never faced her before. So it was just one of those matches where I didn’t try to worry about her too much. I just thought about what I had to do.”
Meanwhile, China’s world number six Li, the runner-up two years ago, overpowered Kazak Sesil Karatantcheva 6-1, 6-3 while seven-time Grand Slam winner Venus Williams, watched by sister Serena, eased past another Kazak Galina Voskoboeva 6-1, 6-0.
Fellow major winner Venus also romped on a warm Melbourne Park day, but fourth-seed Agnieszka Radwanska was put through her paces by local qualifier Bojana Bobusic before finding her groove. Radwanska was pushed hard by Bobusic in the first set before winning 7-5, 6-0. Fifth-seed Angelique Kerber and ninth-seed Samantha Stosur also secured their passage.
In another match, Spanish fourth-seed David Ferrer defeated Belgian Olivier Rochus 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 in the first-round.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 15th, 2013.