Djokovic eases past Mathieu
Novak Djokovic could not hide his satisfaction after completing the first step on the road to a place in history at the Australian Open.
Bidding to become the first man in the Open era to win three successive titles in Melbourne, Djokovic hit the ground running to brush aside the potentially tricky Frenchman Paul-Henri Mathieu.
On his first appearance on Rod Laver Arena since his epic five-set triumph over Rafael Nadal 12 months ago, the world number one had a more straightforward afternoon, winning 6-2 6-4 7-5.
"It was a good performance for a first round," Djokovic said. "I felt I was in control of the match in the opening two sets. Then, you know, he started playing better, striking the ball quite well from both sides on the baseline. I thought he was serving really precisely and really well.
"It was tough to break. But in the end, that 11th game, I made some good shots, good points and managed to go through in straight sets."
On a day largely free of upsets, fourth seed David Ferrer and fifth seed Tomas Berdych also advanced with ease.
Ferrer proved too strong for diminutive Belgian Olivier Rochus, winning 6-3 6-4 6-2 inside two hours, and Berdych had little trouble in dispatching American Michael Russell 6-3 7-5 6-3.
Berdych said: "I was able to find my rhythm and did not have to stay on the court that long, which is a positive."
Several other seeds also progressed on day one at Melbourne Park with varying degrees of difficulty.
Nicolas Almagro required five sets to see off American qualifier Steve Johnson, as did Fernando Verdasco, who hit back from two sets to one and a break down to beat David Goffin. There were also wins for Japanese star Kei Nishikori, Stanislas Wawrinka, Mikhail Youzhny and Janko Tipsarevic.