Rusty Djokovic, slick Serena through in Melbourne

Mon Jan 13, 2014 7:44am EST
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By Nick Mulvenney

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Novak Djokovic showed some early season rustiness but Serena Williams roared into the second round like a well-oiled machine as the tournament favorites took center stage on the first evening of the Australian Open on Monday.

Williams, looking for her sixth title, closed the evening on Rod Laver Arena with a 6-2 6-1 demolition of local hope Ashleigh Barty after four-times champion Djokovic had overcome Lukas Lacko 6-3 7-6(2) 6-1.

Earlier, there were shocks aplenty in the women's draw with the biggest coming when sixth seed Petra Kvitova fell victim to Thai world number 88 Luksika Kumkhum in front of a rapturous crowd on Margaret Court Arena.

There were upsets for two Italian seeds as well, Sara Errani beaten 6-3 6-2 by German Julia Goerges and her doubles partner Roberta Vinci going down 6-4 6-3 to China's Zheng Jie.

Serena's sister Venus Williams also bid an early farewell to the tournament when she blew a 3-0 lead in the deciding set to lose 2-6 6-4 6-4 to Russian Ekaterina Makarova.

Djokovic's new co-coach Boris Becker will have raised an eyebrow with the 30 unforced errors the second seed served up as he opened his quest for a fourth straight title in Melbourne.

The Serbian always looked like cantering to victory in three sets, however, and 23 minutes after taking a tight second stanza by dominating the tiebreak, he was firing down his 10th ace for the win.

"I know that I didn't play my best, especially in the second set," said Djokovic, who has now won his last 22 matches at Melbourne Park and 25 contests in a row in all tournaments since his loss to Rafa Nadal in the U.S. Open final.   Continued...

Serena Williams of the United States hits a return to Ashleigh Barty of Australia during their women's singles match at the Australian Open 2014 tennis tournament in Melbourne January 13, 2014. REUTERS/Petar Kujundzic