MELBOURNE: World number one Roger Federer, former champion Novak Djokovic and Nikolay Davydenko won through to the second round but Robin Soderling was a seeded casualty at the Australian Open on Tuesday.
Federer, chasing his 16th Grand Slam title, dropped the opening set, but rattled home against the 37th-ranked Russian Igor Andreev 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 (7/2), 6-0 in two hours 44 minutes on Rod Laver Arena.
Djokovic, who won the Open two years ago, accounted for Spaniard Daniel Gimeno-Traver 7-5, 6-3, 6-2, while Davydenko continued his impeccable start to the year, cruising past German Dieter Kindlmann 6-1, 6-0, 6-3.
But Swedish eighth seed Soderling became the first men’s top-10 casualty, bowing out to Spain’s 113th-ranked Marcel Granollers 5-7, 2-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-2.
Federer’s performance gave him an early indication of how he stacks up in the opening Grand Slam of the season after losing to Russian Davydenko in his last two matches.
“I know if my body is there and my game is there, I can beat anybody,” Federer said.
“I’m through in the second round. It’s not very deep yet, but at least I got some information, and I feel like I’m playing really well.”Although he stormed through the final set to love with three service breaks, it looked early on as though the Swiss legend was facing a tough tussle against the man who took him to five sets in the fourth round at the 2008 US Open.
Third seed Djokovic fought back from an early break in the opening set to beat the 74th-ranked Spaniard in just over two hours.
Djokovic’s path in his quarter was cleared somewhat by the upset loss of Soderling and 16th Spanish seed Tommy Robredo earlier Tuesday.
Davydenko beat world number two Rafael Nadal in the final, and Federer in the semis, in Doha before heading to Australia for the year’s first Grand Slam.
The Russian, four times a Grand Slam semi-finalist but yet to reach a decider, said his confidence had never been higher.
“Now I feel like I can beat everyone,” he said.
“Before no, mostly I was losing against these guys (top players).
“But now I can beat everyone, it’s a good feeling.”French Open finalist Soderling made 67 unforced errors and was scathing in his assessment of his performance.
“I started terrible and finished terrible,” he said. “I played a horrible match today and I am terribly disappointed. I didn’t feel good at all and I didn’t play well.”
Elsewhere, qualifier Louk Sorensen became the first Irishman to win a Grand Slam singles match for 30 years, beating Taiwan’s Lu Yen-Hsun, 6-4, 3-6, 6-2, 6-1.
Spanish ninth seed Fernando Verdasco progressed with a hard-fought 6-7 (4/7), 7-6 (7/1), 7-5, 6-2 win over Australian Carsten Ball and French 10th seed and 2008 finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga beat Sergiy Stakhovsky of Ukraine.
Unseeded Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis, the 2006 finalist, said he was fitter than ever after cruising to a straight sets win over Italy’s Paolo Lorenzi.
Meanwhile, French veteran Fabrice Santoro had no regrets as he made his final farewell to Grand Slam tennis.
Santoro, 37, and still ranked 67, retired last November and only decided this month that he would play at Melbourne to become the first player to compete in 70 Grand Slam tournaments in four decades.
Santoro, in a record 18th Australian Open, made his final bow when he went down 7-5, 7-5, 6-3 to 14th seed Croatian Marin Cilic.