Former Australian Open Champions Federer, Djokovic, Wawrinka, Sharapova and Kerber Advance
(January 16, 2018) Defending champion Roger Federer along with four other former winners advanced to the second round of the Australian Open on Tuesday.
World No. 2 Federer beat Aljaz Bedene 6-3, 6-4, 6-3 in the night session in Rod Laver Arena.
Actor-comedian Will Ferrell conducted the post-match TV interviews with Federer.
Six-time champion Novak Djokovic is on the comeback trail, after being sidelined with an elbow injury since Wimbledon. The Serb opened with a decisive 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 win over American Donald Young.
Djokovic, who is the president of the ATP Player Council had to dismiss false reports about a possible player boycott. Djokovic held a private meeting with the players before the tournament to talk about issues on the ATP World Tour.
“Well, I saw that some of you have written a story that has been a little bit exaggerated,” Djokovic said to media. “You’ve taken things out of the context. I saw that you’ve portrayed me as someone who is very greedy, asks for more money and wants to boycott.
“But I respect your, you know, freedom and decisions to do that. But not much of what you have wrote is true. What happened is that we, players, just wanted to have us players talk about certain topics. I don’t think there is anything unhealthy about that. We get together, a hundred players get together two or three times in a whole year. This is one of the places where we get together.
“We wanted to use this opportunity to speak about certain subjects and see how everyone, you know, reacts to that, and I guess see what opinions are. There was no decisions being made. There was no talks about boycott or anything like that.
“That’s all I can say really. Nothing much else to add.”
Djokovic added: “Everybody’s trying to do their best. I mean, we are here at the Australian Open, and they always try to compensate the players in a best possible way. Craig Tiley is always trying to accommodate players to make them feel like at home, make them feel respected and valued.
“I mean, things are going in the right direction. Obviously, you know, the question that you ask me you can ask president of ATP. I’m part of the council, but I don’t sit on these negotiation tables. Obviously before you get anything to be voted on the board, it has to go through council. It’s not only me that makes some calls, far from that. I’m just glad that I’m part of it, that I can contribute to a better sport today, and the future. Hopefully the next generation will even have a better sport.”
Another former champion making a comeback is Stan Wawrinka. The 2014 winner needed four sets to advance on Tuesday beating Ricardas Berankis 6-3, 6-4, 2-6, 7-6 (2).. The Swiss was off the tour since Wimbledon with having had knee surgery.
Maria Sharapova is back in Melbourne. This is her first Australian Open since 2016. She was suspended for 15 months for a doping violation, when she tested positive for a banned substance – meldonium during the last time she played in the Australian Open.
The 2008 winner defeated Tatjana Maria 6-1, 6-4 on the second show court, Margaret Court Arena.
“It felt really good (to be back),” said Sharapova. “You know, every point was really important to me today. Didn’t know much about my opponent. Very strange, considering I have been on tour many years and hadn’t played her. She’s been around for a while, as well.”
Sharapova will next play the woman who beat her at the US Open – 14th seed Anastasija Sevastova.
Top seed Simona Halep rebounded from 2-5 down in the first set and an ankle injury to get past Australian wildcard Destanee Aiava 7-6 (5), 6-1. This sets up a battle against 2014 Wimbledon finalist Eugenie Bouchard in the second round.
Former No. 1 and 21st seed Angelique Kerber, the 2016 Australian Open champion, has a 10-match win streak. She defeated German countrywoman Anna-Lena Friedsam continued her 6-0, 6-4.
Other seeded women advancing included: No. 3 Garbine Mugurza, No. 6 Karolina Pliskova, No. 8 Caroline Garcia, No. 9 Johanna Konta, No. 16 Elena Vesnina, No. 18 Ash Barty, No. 26 Agnieszka Radwanska and No. 28 Mirjana Lucic-Baroni.
Seeded men advancing: No. 4 Alexander Zverev, No. 5 Dominic Thiem, No. 7 David Goffin, No. 12 Juan Martin del Potro, No. 13 Sam Querrey and No. 19 Tomas Berdych.