Wawrinka struggles, Federer shines in Australian Open starts

MELBOURNE: Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka managed a Swiss sweep on Monday as the pair were tested in opening-round matches at the Australian Open. Federer, playing his first match since taking six months off to heal a knee injury, showed no lack of form as he overcame fellow 35-year-old Jurgen Melzer, a qualifier, 7-5, 3-6, 6-2, 6-2. Fourth seed Wawrinka needed almost three and a half hours to advance over Slovak Martin Klizan 4-6, 6-4, 7-5, 4-6, 6-4. “It was tough one, for sure, I’m really happy to get through in five sets. I didn’t play my best tennis today, but I was fighting, trying to stay in the game, fighting a lot,” Wawrinka said. “He was playing well.
“He didn’t give me too much rhythm. He made me play not my best tennis. I’m happy to get through, that’s the most important.”
Federer gained a huge measure of confidence in his first official match back. “It was a special moment walking out on the court and a special moment after match point,” he said.
“I definitely see things a bit different when you’ve been gone for along time or when you’ve come back from injury. It was great to beout there. I really enjoyed myself, even though it wasn’t so simple.”.
Andy Murray held off an inspired Illya Marchenko to begin his fortnight 7-5, 7-6 (7-5), 6-2. The five-time Melbourne finalist, who has never claimed the title,set the tone for his fighting effort in the first set when he almost blew a 5-2 lead.
The top seed, muttering and yelling as usual in his plentiful moments of frustration, clawed it back to survive in an hour and was able to scrape out a win as he finally took control in the third set.
Murray lined up a second-round match with Russian qualifier Andrey Rublev.
Fifth seed Kei Nishikori had another long test, defeating Andrey Kuznetsov 5-7, 6-1, 6-4, 6-7 (6-8), 6-2. It was the same story for Croatian seventh seed Marin Cilic, who overcame Pole Jerzy Janowicz in a big-hitting battle 4-6, 4-6, 6-2, 6-2, 6-3.
Czech 10th seed Tomas Berdych had it easy in less than half an hour as Italian qualifier Luca Vanni quit trailing 6-4.
In women’s play, holder Angelique Kerber found herself in a deciding set, but emerged to win over Lesia Tsurenko 6-2, 5-7, 6-2. “It’s always good to have a match like this in the first few rounds,”the German number one said.
Simona Halep became the first major upset victim just hours after the start when the Romanian fourth seed lost to American Shelby Rogers 6-3 6-1.
Halep, twice a quarter-finalist, fell in the opening round for the second year in a row. The 25-year-old was treated on court after the first set but shook off apparent left knee problems to play on to the 75-minute loss.
Spanish seventh seed Garbine Muguruza advanced to the second round over New Zealand’s Marina Erakovic 7-5, 6-4.
Russian eighth seed Svetlana Kuznetsova was also barely stretched,winning 6-0, 6-1 over Mariana Duque-Marino and Ukrainian 11th seed Elina Svitolina crushed Galina Voskoboeva with the loss of two games. — DPA