Big names in a hurry
Australian Open title contenders Nick Kyrgios, Rafael Nadal, Elina Svitolina and Caroline Wozniacki all made lightning quick starts to their campaigns in Melbourne, losing just 20 games between the four of them.
On Rod Laver Arena, world No.1 Nadal made light work of world No.81 Victor Estrella Burgos, powering to a 6-1, 6-1, 6-1 victory in just 94 minutes.
Just as importantly, there was no discernible evidence of the knee problem that had forced Nadal to withdraw from the Brisbane International last week.
Wearing a sleeveless top that conjured up memories of his 2008 pomp, Nadal was untroubled throughout the encounter, and greeted his vanquished opponent with a warm embrace after the match.
“No problems, no problems,” said Nadal when asked about his physical condition. “If I don't feel myself ready, I will not be here. So I am happy to be here, happy that I'm on court again.
“Is a positive start with a good result.”
Over on Hisense Arena, Nick Kyrgios made a similarly impressive start, downing Brazilian Rogerio Dutra Silva 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 in 87 minutes.
Kyrgios was simply a class apart throughout, with Dutra Silva unable to get a handle on his pace and power, despite the apparent presence of nerves in the Australian’s game.
“To go out there in front of the crowd again, just trying to play well, I was a bit nervous going out there,” said Kyrgios. “Ultimately, I thought it was a pretty good performance.”
No.4 seed Elina Svitolina responded to being installed as the favourite for the women’s singles title with a commanding 6-3, 6-2 win over Serbian qualifier Ivana Jorovic in 72 minutes.
Unbeaten this year and on a seven match winning streak, Svitolina looks well positioned to go beyond the third round here in Melbourne for the first time in her career - although she’s not getting carried away.
“I try to take one match at a time,” said the Ukrainian. “There's lots of matches to come to win the tournament. So I don't look forward - just my next round. (Favouritism) gives me confidence, but nothing else.”
Caroline Wozniacki wasted no time against a potentially tricky opponent in Romanian Mihaela Buzarnescu, recording a straightforward 6-2, 6-3 win.
A finalist in Hobart last week, the left-handed Buzarnescu has the game to frustrate higher-ranked opponents, and did break Wozniacki on three occasions in this encounter.
But the 29-year-old leaked errors throughout - conceding 33 in all - while Wozniacki was a model of consistency, hitting only eight unforced errors as the accuracy of her strike guided her into the second round.
“We know each other very well. We played each other a million times in junior events,” said the Dane. “She’s had a great year, so I knew it was going to be tough. I just put my head down and tried to fight for every point.”
Around the Grounds
Elsewhere during the night session, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga cracked 43 winners en route to a 6-4, 6-4, 6-1 win over Kevin King, while home favourite Daria Gavrilova cruised past Irina Falconi 6-1, 6-1.