• First major of the new year

    by  • January 13, 2014 • Sports

    MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — A self-admitted “rusty” Novak Djokovic began his bid for a fourth consecutive Australian Open title with a 6-3, 7-6 (2), 6-1 win Monday over Lukas Lacko.

    He stayed on course for a fifth Australian title, hoping to be the first man to achieve that feat since the Open Era began in 1968.

    Top-ranked Serena Williams extended her winning streak to 23 matches and cruised into the second round with a 6-2, 6-1 victory over Australian wildcard entry Ashleigh Barty. The 17-time major winner wrapped up the match in 57 minutes on her second match point.

    Sister Venus is one and done. The seven-time Grand Slam winner was up 3-0 in the final set but lost in the opening round at Melbourne for the second time.

    Fourth seed Li Na dropped just two games in advancing to the second round. Li has been to the last two Australian Open finals without earning a title.

    No. 9 Angelique Kerber, 2011 U.S. Open champion Sam Stosur, No. 14 Ana Ivanovic, No. 26 Lucie Safarova, No. 28 Flavia Pennetta, No. 30 Eugenie Bouchard of Canada and No. 31 Daniela Hantuchova also went through to Round 2.

    First-round winners on the men’s side include third-ranked David Ferrer, eighth seed Stanislas Wawrinka and American Sam Querrey.

    Alex Bogomolov Jr., quit due to injury after losing two sets to No. 15 Fabio Fognini and No. 12-seeded Tommy Haas pulled out when he was down a set and a break against Guilllermo Garcia-Lopez.

    Other top men advancing included No. 7 Tomas Berdych, No. 9 Richard Gasquet, No. 14 Mikhail Youzhny, No. 19 Kevin Anderson and No. 20 Jerzy Janowicz.