Published: Thu, January 18, 2018
Sport | By Billy Aguilar

Maria, Kerber back with easy triumphs

Maria, Kerber back with easy triumphs

Her last trip to Melbourne Park two years ago was the catalyst for her doping ban, as she tested positive for meldonium following her quarter-final defeat to Serena Williams.

Djokovic, the six-time Australian Open champion, cut an emotional figure after the game, embracing the crowd for their support and revealed that the long lay-off was a hard period for him as he had never been out for more than two months in his career.

The French tennis star is fresh off of a title win at the Qatar Open.

The five-time Grand Slam champion lost to Sevastova at the US Open previous year and won a tight thriller in Beijing, leaving her pleased with a much more convincing victory on a hot day in Melbourne. His opponent from Italy, Thomas Fabbiano kept pace with him and was close to winning the second set which he lost by only two points in the tie break.

He also asked the 19 times Grand Slam victor if the secret to his success downunder was from eating "wombat meat" from a native Australian animal.

The 36-year-old defending champion picked up where he left off in Melbourne, beating Aljaz Bedene 6-3, 6-4, 6-3 in a night match, his first on Rod Laver Arena since clinching a career-reviving title here last year. But at the scene of her first major title she was a dominant 6-0 6-4 victor over compatriot Anna-Leda Friedsam. The Russian will now face the victor of Angelique Kerber and Donna Vekic in what will be an attractive third-round encounter, regardless of whoever the opponent will be.

Pliskova has reached at least the last eight in four of the last five Grand Slams but has been unable to make her major breakthrough.

Eighth seed Caroline Garcia was forced to battle before eventually coming through a tough contest against Germany's Carina Witthoeft 7-5 6-3 while 29th seed Lucie Safarova also reached the second round accounting for Australian wild card Ajla Tomljanovic and 16th seed Elena Vesnina was a comfortable victor over Ons Jabeur.

"In more or less all of these practice sessions, I could feel that I was hitting the ball well". "In general, I'm really happy to get through a match like that, to fight the way I did today, to win the match like this".

No. 20 Barbora Strycova's 6-1, 7-5 win over wild-card entry Kristie Ahn and Aliaksandra Sasnovich beat Christina McHale 6-3, 6-2 to make it 2 for 13 for the USA women so far.

"I've been putting in a lot of hours on the court in the last couple of weeks and I played a lot of practice sets".

"It felt great to be back on the court and compete again", the six-times Australian Open champion said afterwards.

Eighth seed Caroline Garcia survived a tense clash with teenager Marketa Vondrousova, winning 6-7 (3/7) 6-2 8-6, but ninth seed Johanna Konta fell to lucky loser Bernarda Pera.

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