Djokovic, Wawrinka lead men’s advance at Open


MELBOURNE: Novak Djokovic didn’t waste any time as defending champion Stan Wawrinka took a more circuitous route to the third round at the Australian Open on Thursday.

Serbia’s world number one Djokovic, who is gunning for a fifth Australian title, took just 84 minutes to demolish Russian Andrey Kuznetsov 6-0, 6-1, 6-4 in his best performance at this year’s first Grand Slam.

He never gave the 88th-ranked Kuznetsov a chance, reeling off the opening nine games and losing only five games on Rod Laver Arena.

“Overall I executed the game plan. Everything I intended to do, almost 100 percent, from every second in my game, serve, baseline play, aggressive shots and aggressive returns,” he said.

“He dropped his first serve percentage a lot in the second set and allowed me to have a lot of looks at the second serves.

“That gave me an opportunity to step in and just swing through the ball.”

It means that since 2007 Djokovic has dropped just two sets in his first and second round matches at his favourite Grand Slam tournament.

Djokovic will face either Japan’s Go Soeda or Spanish 31st seed Fernando Verdasco next up.

Wawrinka had more problems in his match on Margaret Court Arena as he dodged the bombs of big serving Romanian Marius Copil to advance.

The Swiss fourth seed faced down Copil’s rockets, including the fastest recorded serve so far this year, clocked at 242 kph (150 mph), on the way to his win in three tight sets.

Wawrinka won 7-6 (7/4), 7-6 (7/4), 6-3 in 2hr 16min and will now play Finnish journeyman Jarkko Nieminen in the seeded round.

“It was quite a tough match and happy to get through, especially in three sets,” Wawrinka said.

“The condition wasn’t easy today. Quite hot. Really fast on the court and he was playing great. He was serving big, putting lots of pressure on me.”

Japan’s Kei Nishikori said he was closing in on his best form after being pushed to four sets before putting away Croatia’s Ivan Dodig.

Fifth seed Nishikori, who is knocking on the door for a Grand Slam title after losing to Marin Cilic in the final of last year’s US Open, won 4-6, 7-5, 6-2, 7-6 (7/0) and will now play American Steve Johnson.

“I think I’m getting close. Maybe these couple of matches I didn’t play 100 percent, but I’m still winning good three and four sets. I think it’s getting there,” Nishikori said.

Elsewhere, American 19th seed John Isner, Spain’s ninth seed David Ferrer and 12th seed Feliciano Lopez and Frenchman Gilles Simon all won through to the next round.

Big-serving Canadian Milos Raonic, the eighth seed, was to face American Donald Young later Thursday, while Australian warhorse Lleyton Hewitt faces Germany’s Benjamin Becker. (AFP)