Federer, Djokovic open with wins

Updated: January 19, 2009, 3:25 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

MELBOURNE, Australia -- Second-seeded Roger Federer started his campaign to equal Pete Sampras' record 14 Grand Slam titles with a 6-1, 7-6 (4), 7-5 win Monday over Andreas Seppi at the Australian Open.

Federer has three Australian titles among his 13 majors and lost in the semifinals here last year to eventual champion Novak Djokovic.

"He's a very tough customer, he played really well," Federer said in a courtside interview. "I think I played well, he's a quality player, I'm very happy.

"Last year I was struggling to get fit for the tournament [and] this year I had much more preparation [in Dubai].

"I feel like I know where my game is."

The 27-year-old Swiss star sealed the first-round win on his fifth match point when the 35th-ranked Seppi of Italy pushed a forehand long.

Defending champion Djokovic overcame a slow start and reeled off seven wins in the last eight games in his first-round win.

With temperatures topping 95 degrees on a bright, sunny day at Melbourne Park, the 21-year-old Serb took awhile settling in before beating Andrea Stoppini of Italy 6-2, 6-3, 7-5.

Djokovic recovered a break in the second set and had to come back from 4-0 down in the third.
[+] EnlargeAndy Roddick
AP Photo/Rick StevensAndy Roddick swept away Swedish qualifier Bjorn Rehnquist at Rod Laver Arena.

Djokovic lost his first match of the year at Brisbane before getting a wild card for the Sydney International, where he reached the semifinals last week.

"I had a little slow start in the first two weeks, I didn't play my best tennis," he said. "Today I was very down in the second and third set, and I turned it around. Hopefully I can get going and get a good result here."

Seventh-seeded Andy Roddick had no trouble finding his timing, making only 10 unforced errors in a 6-0, 6-2, 6-2 win over 31-year-old Swedish qualifier Bjorn Rehnquist.

The 2003 U.S. Open champion lost only nine points in the first set, sealing it in 28 minutes after setting up triple set point with consecutive aces.

Roddick, a semifinalist in Australia every alternate year since 2003, came into the tournament as runner-up to fourth-ranked Andy Murray at the Qatar Open and hasn't given up hope of winning a second major, despite the domination of Federer and Rafael Nadal.

"I'm 26, so I'm not quite over-the-hill," he said. Another Grand Slam title "is what I'm shooting for."

Roddick next plays Belgium's Xavier Malisse, who earned a 7-6 (8), 6-1, 6-1 win over Michael Llodra of France.

Roddick was happy to be first up in Rod Laver Arena as temperatures rose steadily. He sped off in less than two hours, taking advantage of Rehnquist, whose style played right into the seventh-seeded American's strengths.

"He's probably not going to do much to kind of blow you off the court," said Roddick, who lost only nine points in the first set. "But you got to go and execute. I was able to do that."

Roddick's friend and former housemate Mardy Fish had a 6-7 (3), 6-4, 7-5, 6-0 win over local wild-card entry Samuel Groth, but six other American men made first-round exits.

Czech Republic's Tomas Berdych, seeded 20th, beat Robby Ginepri, Dominik Hrbaty downed John Isner, Robert Kendrick lost to No. 16 Robin Soderling of Sweden, Bobby Reynolds was ousted by No. 21 Tommy Robredo of Spain, and Taylor Dent fell to fellow American Amer Delic in five sets.

Sam Querrey lost in straight sets to Germany's Philipp Kohlschreiber.

Other men advancing were No. 8 Juan Martin del Potro and No. 10 David Nalbandian of Argentina, No. 11 David Ferrer of Spain, No. 15 Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland, No. 19 Marin Cilic, 2005 champion Marat Safin, 2006 finalist Marcos Baghdatis and 16-year-old Australian Bernard Tomic in his Grand Slam debut.

Gilles Muller of Luxembourg overcame No. 27 Feliciano Lopez of Spain 6-3, 7-6 (5), 4-6, 4-6, 16-14 in a 4-hour, 23-minute match.

Russia's Evgeny Korolev had an upset win over former No. 1-ranked Carlos Moya of Spain, and will face Federer in the second round.

Information from The Associated Press and Reuters was used in this report.