Lleyton Hewitt defeated Juan Martin del Potro, Tomas Berdych and Milos Raonic at the Kooyong exhibition entering the Australian Open, but that didn’t help the Australian former No. 1 who exited 7-6(4), 7-5, 6-3 to No. 8 seed Janko Tipsarevic on Monday in Melbourne.
“He played as well as he could play, there’s no doubt about it,” Hewitt said. “He’s only won four titles. There’s not too many guys in the Top 10 consistently that have only won four titles. But I’ve seen him play big matches…he’s a quality player.”
Other Top 10 seeds in action, all winning in straights, were No. 1 Novak Djokovic defeating France’s Paul-Henri Mathieu 6-2, 6-4, 7-5; No. 4 David Ferrer dispatching of Belgian Olivier Rochus 6-3, 6-4, 6-2; and No. 5 Berdych rolling past American “Iron” Mike Russell 6-3, 7-5, 6-3.
“There are some few adjustments that I need to make and get a little bit sharper on the court,” said Djokovic, who will next face American Ryan Harrison. “But it’s expected in the first match you’re still not a 100 percent on the court.”
Other seeded winners were No. 10 Nicolas Almagro over American Steve Johnson 6-2 in the fifth, No. 15 Stan Wawrinka, No. 16 Kei Nishikori, No. 20 Sam Querrey, No. 22 Fernando “Hot Sauce” Verdasco outlasting David Goffin in five, No. 23 Mikhail Youzhny over Aussie Matthew Ebden in five, No. 24 Jerzy Janowicz, No. 26 Jurgen “Tuna” Melzer, No. 31 Radek “The Worm” Stepanek topping Serb Viktor Troicki from two sets down, and No. 32 Julien Benneteau.
The only seeded men’s casualty on Monday was No. 11 Juan Monaco, who fell in straights to Russian Andrey Kuznetsov.
In the last match of the night, a weary Marcos Baghdatis outlasted a wearier Albert Ramos in five sets and more than four hours, with the first two sets featuring long tiebreaks.
Unseeded notables into the second round were Americans Brian Baker who outlasted Alex Bogomolov Jr. in five, Ryan Harrison who defeated Colombia’s Santiago Giraldo in four, and Tim Smyczek who stopped the big-serving “Dr.” Ivo Karlovic; Spaniard Feliciano “F-Lo” Lopez, South African and Sydney runner-up Kevin Anderson, and Belgian Xavier “X-Man” Malisse.
The women’s side on Monday saw it’s usual lines of top-seeded destruction, led by world No. 2 Maria Sharapova double-bageling fellow Russian Olga Puchkova 6-0, 6-0, and No. 25 Venus Williams rolling Kazakhstan’s Galina Voskoboeva 6-1, 6-0.
“Obviously it’s nice to spend less time on the court, and not be in long sets,” said the elder Williams sister, who could meet Sharapova in the third round. “I don’t think my opponent quite got the hang of — you know, it’s hard to play the first match in a major, first thing of the year, and that can be a lot of pressure.”
Other Top 10-seeded winners were No. 4 Agnieszka Radwanska overcoming a tough start to down Aussie Bojana Bobusic 7-5, 6-0; No. 5 Angelique Kerber easing past the Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina 6-2, 6-4; No. 6 Li Na rolling over Kazakhstan’s Sesil “Rope a Dope” Karatantcheva 6-1, 6-3; and No. 9 Samantha Stosur avoiding an opening-round choke after a shaky first set, eventually defeating Taiwan’s Chang Kai-Chen 7-6(3), 6-3.
“I think this year I do feel better about things,” Stosur said prior to the event’s start. “I don’t feel as probably uptight or stressed or anything like that than last year. Last year I didn’t handle it so well.”
Radwanska struggled through a slow start 7-5 to win easily in the second and move into the second round.
“I think I just didn’t start aggressive enough,” said Radwanska, who improved to 10-0 in 2013. “I’m just happy that I could come back in the first set and play much better in the second set.”
Other seeded winners were No. 11 Marion Bartoli, No. 13 Ana Ivanovic, No. 15 Dominika Cibulkova scraping by Aussie Ashleigh Barty in three, No. 18 Julia Goerges outlasting Russian Vera Dushevina in three, No. 19 Ekaterina Makarova, No. 22 Jelena Jankovic, No. 23 Klara Zakopalova, No. 27 Sorana Cirstea, and No. 30 Tamira Paszek who struggled past Swiss Stefanie Voegele in three.
Kazakhstan’s Ksenia Pervak orchestrated the lone women’s upset on the day, defeating No. 32-seeded German Mona Barthel 7-5, 2-6, 6-4.
Unseeded players of note into the second round were France’s Alize Cornet who next meets Venus Williams, Taiwan’s Chan Yung-Jan who sent veteran Daniela Hantuchova home 6-1 in the third, Brit comer Heather Watson, and American teen Madison Keys.
“I wasn’t playing well,” said Watson, who struggled physically and called the trainer during her win. “I didn’t have much energy today. I don’t know what it was. I think I’m going to go see the doctor after. But when I started cramping, I had to start hitting the ball because I couldn’t move. I’m kind of thankful that I did cramp today, otherwise I don’t know how that would have ended up…It was the trainer and the doctor, and I just told them how I was feeling, if there was anything I could take, what I should be doing, because I was feeling quite faint.”
Matches to watch Tuesday are (3) Andy Murray vs. Robin Haase, (1) Victoria Azarenka vs. Monica Niculescu, (2) Roger Federer vs. French comer Benoit Paire, Aussie Bernard Tomic “The Tank Engine” vs. Leonardo Mayer, (10) Caroline Wozniacki vs. Sabine Lisicki, (3) Serena Williams vs. Edina Gallovits-Hall, an all-French match-up in (7) Jo-Wilfried Tsonga vs. Michael Llodra, an all-Slam winner meeting in Francesca Schiavone vs. (8) Petra Kvitova, Gael “Force” Monfils vs. (18) Alexandr Dolgopolov, and upset alert Jamie Hampton vs. (31) Urszula Radwanska.
TENNIS-X NEWS, NOTES, QUOTES AND BARBS
What happened to the Australian Open heat wave? Why were people bundled up like they were going snowboarding?…Novak Djokovic, who minds the heat, has won his last 15 matches in Melbourne…Serena Williams, meanwhile, has won her last 16 matches overall plus 14 straight in Slam play…Sick of streaks, sorry. We got more. Agnieszka Radwanska has won her last 10 matches and 20 sets…And Andy Murray has won seven straight Grand Slam matches and 13 of 14…Three of the last four times Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Michael Llodra have played, Llodra has retired…Sadly Australians won just one of nine matches on Monday, and the lone winner of all people was Sam Stosur…Maria Sharapova needs only a double bagel at Wimbledon to complete her career Double Bagel Slam, something not even Serena has done. Sugarpova also didn’t deny dating Grigor Dimitrov when asked by ESPN’s Chris Fowler today during an interview. Grigor, though, has lost his last 7 sets and 3 straight matches since the rumor started just prior to the Brisbane final against Andy Murray…Ryan Harrison had never won a match at the Australian Open until today, and his reward is Novak Djokovic Wednesday night…Roger Federer has won his last 14 matches against Frenchmen…Andy Murray has 100 career Grand Slam match wins, why add any more?…Bernard Tomic has 8 match wins including his Hopman Cup exo…Seeded players went 30-2 on the first day, pretty amazing, eh?…Did you know Melbourne is Australia’s biggest sports town?…Lleyton Hewitt’s last two losses at the Australian Open have been to Serbs…Venus Williams on her diet to deal with her immune system illness: “If it’s on your plate, I might get to cheat. If you’re sitting next to me, good luck. You turn your head once and your food might be gone. I think it’s pretty well known I’m a cheagan [cheating vegan]. I’m not perfect, but I try.”
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