Melbourne, Australia (4E Sports) – World No. 2 and three-time defending champion Novak Djokovic opened his Australian Open campaign with a 6-3, 7-6(2), 6-1 victory over Slovakia’s Lukas Lacko Monday at Rod Laver Arena.
With the victory, Djokovic extended his winning streak to 22 matches. He will next face No. 98 Leonardo Mayer, who defeated Spain’s Albert Montanes early in the day.
Playing his first match of 2014, the three-time defending champion made a confident start as he raced to a 4-1 lead in the first set.
However, several errors saw Djokovic trade breaks with the 96th-ranked Slovak before serving out the set, 6-3.
Third seed David Ferrer also advanced to the next round with a 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 win over Colombian Alejandro Gonzalez. A two-time semi-finalist, Ferrer hit 33 winners and committed 30 unforced errors during the match that lasted two hours and five minutes.
Ferrer next faces Frenchman Adrian Mannarino, who overcame Steve Johnson, 3-6, 6-3, 6-0, 5-7, 6-4.
Seventh seed Tomas Berdych defeated Aleksandr Nedovyesov, 6-3, 6-4, 6-3, while ninth seed Richard Gasquet battled past fellow Frenchman David Guez, 7-5, 6-4, 6-1.
Other winners were Jerzy Janowicz, Pablo Andujar, Vasek Pospisil, Matthew Ebden, Tommy Robredo, Nikolay Davydenko, Tommy Haas, Kevin Anderson, Kenny De Schepper, Fabio Fognini, Alexandr Dolgopolov, Dominic Thiem and Denis Istomin.
On the women’s side, Serena Williams began her campaign with a 6-2, 6-1 win over Australian wildcard Ashleigh Barty in just 57 minutes.
The top-seeded Williams hit 31 winners to 17 unforced errors and never faced a break point.
Williams improved to 53-1 in Grand Slam first round matches, the only loss coming against Virginie Razzano at the 2012 French Open.
However, two of the other three top eight seeds in Williams’ half weren’t so fortunate, beginning with seventh seed Sara Errani, who fell to Julia Goerges.
Errani was joined on the sidelines by sixth seed Petra Kvitova, who was outslugged by the two-fisted groundstrokes of Luksika Kumkhum, 6-2, 1-6, 6-4.
There were two more upsets, with Zheng Jie picking off No. 12 Roberta Vinci, 6-4, 6-3, and Alison Riske bouncing No. 23 Elena Vesnina in straights, 6-2, 6-2.
Other winners were No. 4 Li Na, No. 9 Angelique Kerber, No. 14 seed Ana Ivanovic, No. 17 Samantha Stosur and No. 22 Ekaterina Makarova.