Novak Djokovic was having an easy time of it in his first-round match at the Australian Open, so he decided to experiment by coming to the net. Like pretty much anything he does on the tennis court these days, it was an unqualified success.
He easily beat Paolo Lorenzi 6-2, 6-0, 6-0 yesterday to advance to the second round and continue his quest to join Rod Laver, Pete Sampras, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal by winning three straight Grand Slam singles titles.
“When you’re 30, 40-love up, why not try some other things, something that is not characteristic for your game,” said Djokovic, who usually does not stray too far from the baseline.
He took them well, winning 21 of 26 points he attempted at the net.
While Djokovic looks to extend his Grand Slam success, reigning US Open women’s champion and Australian hope Sam Stosur was beaten in the following match, and a partisan full house at Rod Laver Arena could do nothing to help.
Sixth seed Stosur was outplayed by Sorana Cirstea 7-6 (7/2), 6-3. The Romanian later told the crowd that “probably the whole country hates me now.”
Serena Williams, a five-time Australian Open champion who lost to Stosur in the US Open final in September, shook off some rust as she came through her opening match with a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Tamira Paszek in the late match.
Williams frequently yelped in frustration as some of her shots failed to come off in only her third official match since reaching the US Open final.
She completed victory with a service winner after 1 hour, 19 minutes in a match which finished at 12:52am.
Williams, the 13-time Grand Slam champion, is on a 15-match winning streak at Melbourne Park having won back-to-back titles in 2009 and 2010, before missing last year’s tournament with injury.
Stosur’s first-round loss mirrors that of Petra Kvitova, who went out in the first round of last year’s US Open after winning Wimbledon.
“I’m not sure if it’s one of my biggest matches, but it feels like that now,” said Cirstea, who had lost both her previous matches against Stosur.
Stosur saved three match points while serving to stay in the match, but finally lost it when her looping forehand drifted over the baseline. No Australian has won the national title since Chris O’Neil in 1978.
“Certainly not the way that I wanted, not just this tournament, but the whole summer, [to play out],” Stosur said. “There’s not any other word for it but a total disappointment.”
Second-ranked Kvitova and world No. 4 Maria Sharapova advanced.
After surrendering her opening service game with a double fault, Kvitova won 12 consecutive games in a 6-2, 6-0 win over Russia’s Vera Dushevina.
Sharapova, a former Australian Open and Wimbledon champion, won the first eight games of a 6-0, 6-1 win over Gisela Dulko of Argentina in her first match since returning from a left-ankle injury.
The 2008 champion needed just 58 minutes for the win and the only game she lost was on her own serve.
Other women advancing included No. 7 Vera Zvonareva, No. 9 Marion Bartoli and former French Open champion Ana Ivanovic.
No. 14 Sabine Lisicki, No. 17 Dominika Cibulkova, No. 27 Maria Kirilenko, Canada’s Aleksandra Wozniak, Shahar Peer of Israel and 2000 Wimbledon semi-finalist Jelena Dokic also advanced.
Joining Djokovic in the second round of the men’s draw is the player he beat last year in the final, fourth seed Andy Murray, who had a first-set lapse before beating Ryan Harrison of the US 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-2.