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NEWS

Venus, Harrison open with wins on Day 1 of Australian Open

January 14, 2013 07:52 AM
Venus Williams acknowledges the crowd after winning her first-round match against Galina Voskoboeva.
Ryan Harrison in action during his opening-round win over Santiago Giraldo.
MELBOURNE, Australia -- Americans Venus Williams and Ryan Harrison had successful starts to their 2013 Australian Open campaigns, winning their first-round matches on Day 1 of the year's first Grand Slam Monday.

Williams needed just an hour to capture her opening 6-1, 6-0 win over Galina Voskoboeva of Kazakhstan, taking command of her match early with a steady stream of winners and powerful serves.

Williams skipped last year's Australian Open due to illness and was warmly welcomed with applause as she entered the court. She had the biggest jump of any of the top players in 2012, moving from outside the Top 100 to finish the year at No. 24.

"It's hard to play the first match in a major, first thing of the year, and that can be a lot of pressure," Williams said. "I did my best to just close it out."

Williams said she is pleased with the progress she made last year after a seven-month layoff due to Sjogren's syndrome, an auto-immune disease that can cause fatigue.

"I'm not a patient person," she said. "But I think what I have learned more than anything is for me to focus on the things I can accomplish and not to think about the things that I can't do."

Her younger sister, Serena, was sitting in the crowd with coach Patrick Mouratoglou. Serena is the favorite to win the Australian Open, heading into the tournament with 35 wins in her past 36 matches, including titles at Wimbledon, the Olympics and the US Open.

No. 3-ranked Serena Williams is in the top half of the draw with defending champion Victoria Azarenka, and the pair won't start until Tuesday.

Harrison, meantime, was a 2-6, 6-4, 7-5, 6-4 winner over Santiago Giraldo of Colombia. He moves on to the second round, where he will face two-time defending champion and men's top seed Novak Djokovic.

Djokovic took his first step toward winning his third consecutive title at Melbourne Park – and fourth overall – with a 6-2, 6-4, 7-5 win over Paul-Henri Mathieu of France. The match lasted 1 hour, 42 minutes, more than four hours faster than when the Serbian star was last on center court, his victory in last year's final over Rafael Nadal in a 5-hour, 53-minute marathon.

The win ran Djokovic's winning streak at Melbourne to 15 matches and his overall win-loss record to 33-5. Any wonder Djokovic calls the Australian Open, site of his first of five Grand Slams in 2008, his favorite major.

"It's great to be back in Australia playing on this court," Djokovic said.

The No. 2-ranked Maria Sharapova also advanced, and could potentially face Venus Williams in the third round.

No. 4 Agnieszka Radwanska won the last nine straight games in her opening 7-5, 6-0 win over Australian wild card Bojana Bobusic, 7-5, 6-0, and 2011 US Open champion Samantha Stosur beat Chang Kai-chen of Taiwan, 7-6 (3), 6-3, to end a run of five losses on her home courts in Australia.

No. 6 Li Na, who lost the Australian Open final before winning the 2011 French Open, had a 6-1, 6-3 win over Sesil Karatantcheva of Kazakhstan, while No. 11 Marion Bartoli, No. 18 Julia Gorges of Germany and No. 27 Sorana Cirstea of Romania also advanced. Former No. 1 Jelena Jankovic beat Sweden's Johanna Larsson 6-2, 6-2.

Among the men, fourth-seeded David Ferrer defeated Olivier Rochus of Belgium, 6-3, 6-4, 6-2; 2010 Wimbledon finalist Tomas Berdych defeated American Michael Russell, 6-3, 7-5, 6-3; and No. 10 Nicolas Almagro of Spain beat American qualifier Steve Johnson 7-5, 6-7 (4), 6-2, 6-7 (6), 6-2.

Eighth-seeded Janko Tipsarevic of Serbia came back from two service breaks down in the second set and went on to beat local favorite Lleyton Hewitt, 7-6 (4), 7-5, 6-3. It was Hewitt's 17th consecutive Australian Open, a tournament where he's only advanced past the fourth round once, when he lost in the final to Marat Safin in 2005.

Also advancing were No. 15 Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland, No. 16 Kei Nishikori of Japan, No. 22 Fernando Verdasco of Spain, No. 26 Jurgen Melzer of Austria and No. 32 Julien Benneteau of France, who beat rising Bulgarian star Grigor Dimitrov, 6-4, 6-2, 6-4.

Second-seeded Roger Federer and No. 3 Andy Murray, the two main threats to Djokovic with Rafael Nadal not playing due to a virus, play their first-round matches Tuesday.
 
Information from The Associated Press was used in compiling this story.
 

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