OMNISPORT

Novak Djokovic began his Australian Open defence with an easy win over Paul-Henri Mathieu, while Tomas Berdych also progressed on Monday.
Djokovic, who is aiming to become the first man in the Open era to win three consecutive titles in Australia, needed just over 100 minutes to defeat the Frenchman 6-2 6-4 7-5

The Serbian broke Mathieu in the opening game of the match and was untroubled on his own serve as he cruised through the first set.

Djokovic again broke early in the second before fighting off three consecutive break points to consolidate and take control of the match.

Mathieu showed flashes of brilliance with some cracking forehand winners, but lacked consistency to really challenge the world No.1 as Djokovic took a two-set lead.

The Frenchman delayed the inevitable with a strong effort in the third, but it was always only a matter of time and Djokovic landed the crucial break in the 11th game before sealing the match with a classy forehand winner.

He will now play Ryan Harrison after the American accounted for Colombian Santiago Giraldo 2-6 6-4 7-5 6-4.

Fifth seed Berdych also enjoyed a relatively straightforward victory, defeating American Michael Russell 6-3 7-5 6-3.

Berdych breezed through the first set, but had to come from a break down in the second before finally closing out the match in two hours and 11 minutes.

The Czech will now play Guillaume Rufin after the Frenchman downed German Julian Reister 4-6 7-6 (7-4) 6-1 6-2.

Fourth-seeded Spaniard David Ferrer was a comfortable victor over Belgium's Olivier Rochus, winning 6-3 6-4 6-2, to set up a meeting with American lucky loser Tim Smyczek, who downed Croatian giant Ivo Karlovic.

Argentine 11th seed Juan Monaco was the highest-ranked casualty on day one, as he bowed out in straight sets to Russia's Andrey Kuznetsov 7-6 (7-3) 6-1 6-1.

Tenth seed Nicolas Almagro needed just over three hours to beat American qualifier Steve Johnson 7-5 6-7 (4-7) 6-2 6-7 (6-8) 6-2.

The Spaniard held a match point in the fourth-set tiebreaker and thought he had won it when a Johnson forehand was called out.

But the world No.175 successfully challenged the call before sending the match into a fifth set, although Almagro regrouped to race through the decider.

He will now play compatriot Daniel Gimeno-Traver after he also needed five sets to beat Poland's Lukasz Kubot 6-7 (4-7) 6-4 6-0 4-6 6-4.

Switzerland's 15th seed Stanislas Wawrinka needed just 89 minutes to advance via a 6-2 6-4 6-3 win over German qualifier Cedrik-Marcel Stebe, while 16th seed Kei Nishikori recovered from a first-set blip to defeat Romanian journeyman Victor Hanescu 6-7 (5-7) 6-3 6-1 6-3.

Nishikori, a quarter-finalist at Melbourne Park last year, appeared to struggle with a knee injury throughout the match and will next play Carlos Berlocq after the Argentine accounted for Belgian qualifier Maxime Authom 1-6 7-6 (7-5) 7-6 (7-4) 6-2.

Former semi-finalist Fernando Verdasco avoided being the first big-name casualty with an epic 6-3 3-6 4-6 6-3 6-4 win over Belgium's David Goffin.

The 22nd seed will now play another Belgian after veteran Xavier Malisse crushed Spaniard Pablo Andujar 6-3 6-1 6-2.

Austrian 26th seed Jurgen Melzer enjoyed the easiest of passages into the second round after conceding just four games in his 6-1 6-1 6-2 victory over Mikhail Kukushkin.

Russia's 23rd seed Mikhail Youzhny saw off a brave effort from Australian Matthew Ebden to record a 4-6 6-7 (0-7) 6-2 7-6 (7-4) 6-3, saving a match point in the fourth set in the process.

Poland's Jerzy Janowicz got past Simone Bolelli of Italy, with the 24th seed securing his passage to the second round with a 7-5 6-4 6-3 victory.

Czech Radek Stepanek fought back from two sets down against Viktor Troicki of Serbia, with the 31st seed winning 5-7 4-6 6-3 6-3 7-5 in just under four hours.

Frenchman Julien Benneteau, seeded 32nd, enjoyed a straightforward victory over Brisbane International finalist Grigor Dimitrov 6-4 6-2 6-4 and will fancy his chances of reaching the third round when he faces a fatigued Edouard Roger-Vasselin, who was on court for just under four-and-a-half hours in his 6-3 6-7 (5-7) 2-6 7-5 11-9 win over Ruben Bemelmans.

Spain's Feliciano Lopez was largely untroubled against Spaniard Arnau Brugues-Davi, recording a 6-3 6-2 6-4 triumph.

Germany's Tobias Kamke comfortably accounted for Italian Flavio Cipolla 6-1 6-4 6-1, while American Brian Baker defied a comeback from Russian Alex Bogomolov Jr to win in five sets and South Africa's Kevin Anderson battled past Italian Paolo Lorenzi in four sets.

Slovakian Lukas Lacko dismissed Luxembourg's Gilles Muller 6-2 6-4 7-6 (7-3), and he will face eighth seed Janko Tipsarevic next, after the Serb beat Australian veteran Lleyton Hewitt in straight sets.

Hewitt's compatriot John Millman fell to Japan's Tatsuma Ito in five sets, while Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain got past Italian Fabio Fognini also in a five-setter and American 20th seed Sam Querrey defeated Daniel Munoz-De La Nava of Spain in four sets.

And reminiscent of many an Australian Open before, Cyprus' 28th seed Marcos Baghdatis was one of the last men on court for the day's play - as he defeated Spain's Albert Ramos 6-7 (0-7) 7-6 (7-4) 6-4 3-6 6-3.