Tennis: Entertaining Djokovic breezes through first round of Open

Anyone who didn't know Novak Djokovic won three of the four Grand Slam titles last year only had to look at his shoes.

That's if his emphatic first-round win at the Australian Open wasn't evidence enough when he started his title defence yesterday with a 6-2, 6-0, 6-0 win over Paolo Lorenzi of Italy wearing a pair of red, white and blue shoes with images of his three major trophies on the sides and a Serbian flag on the heels.

He gave up an early break but immediately broke back at love as he won the next 17 games, saving a break point in the opening game of the second set.

"It was a great performance for [my] first official match of the 2012 season," said the top-ranked Djokovic, whose only loss at a Grand Slam tournament last year was in the French Open semifinals.

The 24-year-old Serb has won two Australian titles - including his first major in 2008 - and his game is well suited to the pace of the hard court. But he struggled at times with the heat at Melbourne Park before his breakthrough season last year and didn't always look comfortable against Lorenzi as the temperature hit 32C.

It didn't stop him from entertaining his fans, though. He played a shot between his legs, with his back to the net, to set up a breakpoint chance in the fourth game of the third set which brought the crowd to its feet.

On the women's side, second-ranked Petra Kvitova and No 4 Maria Sharapova advanced with lopsided wins.

After surrendering her opening service game with a double-fault, Wimbledon champion Kvitova won 12 consecutive games in a 6-2, 6-0 win over Russia's Vera Dushevina.

Last week, Kvitova missed a chance to overhaul Caroline Wozniacki's No 1 ranking when she lost in the Sydney International semifinals. She needed to win the Sydney tournament to take the top ranking.

But she gets another chance at Melbourne Park, where she is one of six women who can finish No 1.

Sharapova, a former Australian Open and Wimbledon champion, won the first eight games of a 6-0, 6-1 win over Gisela Dulko of Argentina in her first match since returning from a left ankle injury.

US Open champion Sam Stosur crashed out in straight sets in a major blow for local fans desperate to end a long drought at the national championship.

Sixth-seeded Stosur lost 7-6 (2), 6-3 to No 59-ranked Sorana Cirstea of Romania to continue her terrible run at home since beating Serena Williams to capture her first Grand Slam title in New York last September.

Other women advancing included No 27 Maria Kirilenko, who beat Australian hope Jarmila Gajdosova 6-4, 6-2, Canada's Aleksandra Wozniak, Shahar Peer of Israel and 2000 Wimbledon semifinalist Jelena Dokic.

Auckland men's open winner and No 5 seed David Ferrer advanced in straight sets, 6-1, 6-4, 6-2 over Rui Machado of Portugal.

- AAP

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