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Djokovic cruises past Mathieu

ESPN staff
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Novak Djokovic powered nine aces © Getty Images
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Novak Djokovic enjoyed the ideal start to the defence of his Australian Open title as he breezed into the second round with a straight-sets win over Paul Henri Mathieu.

The No. 1 seed had spoken positively about his form heading into the opening major of 2013 and the bookmakers' favourite threw down a marker with a 6-2 6-4 7-5 win.

At No. 64 in the world, Mathieu is an accomplished campaigner - he has reached the fourth round at Melbourne Park in previuous years - but he simply had no answer to the quality from Djokovic.

Djokovic was supreme on serve, he won 84 per cent of points behind his first serve, and Mathieu could find no answer. Two breaks of serve enable the Serb to cruise through the first set.

The second was won at a canter and although Mathieu imparted some scoreboard pressure when leading 5-4 in the third, Djokovic held with ease before breaking one game later with some superb returning of serve.

A roar of approval greeted the break, which appeared more out of relief than anything else, and he closed out the match one game later.

"It was a good performance for a first round," Djokovic said. "I felt I was in control of the match in the opening two sets. Then, you know, he started playing better, striking the ball quite well from both sides on the baseline. I thought he was serving really precisely and really well."

Ryan Harrison is up next for Djokovic, the American being a 2-6 6-4 7-5 6-4 winner over Santiago Giraldo.

Janko Tipsarevic came through a stern test, beating home favourite Lleyton Hewitt 7-6(4) 7-5 6-3 win.

Despite all his problems, Hewitt came into the match in confident mood and he tested Tipsarevic to the full. Both players hit a string of winners and at times Hewitt looked close to his best, but time and again Tipsarevic found an answer to close out a thrilling match.

Stanislas Wawrinka is in the same quarter of the draw as Djokovic and he eased his way into the tournament with a three-set win over Cedrik-Marcel Stebe. Wawrinka will face Tobias Kamke in round two after he overcame Flavio Cipolla.

David Ferrer will soon pass the absent Rafael Nadal to become the top-ranked Spaniard and he made a professional start to the tournament, beating Olivier Rochus 6-3 6-4 6-2. Rochus is a solid if limited player, but he was given no chance to gain a foothold in the contest as the No. 4 seed won with ease. Up next for Ferrer is Tim Smyczek who beat Crotian Ivo Karlovic in straight sets.

Fernando Verdasco had to show all his battling qualities to take out David Goffin in five sets. His second-round opponent will be Xavier Malisse who eased past Pablo Andujar.

Juan Monaco became the first major casualty of the men's draw, the 11th seed beaten in straight sets by Andrey Kuznetsov. After a tight first set, Monaco looked laboured and was beaten 7-6(3) 6-1 6-1.

Jurgen Melzer dropped only four games in his win over Mikhail Kukushkin, while the fifth seed Tomas Berdych was comfortable in his win over Michael Russell.

The No. 31 seed Radek Stepanek produced a stirring fightback to beat Viktor Troicki 5-7 4-6 6-3 6-3 7-5. Up next is a meeting with Feliciano Lopez who eased past Arnau Brugues-Davi.

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