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Tennis | Australian Open

Federer, Murray in cruise control



Leading contenders Roger Federer and Andy Murray were fast out of the blocks with straight-sets victories in their opening matches at the Australian Open on Tuesday.

Federer, the record 17-time Grand Slam champion and chasing his fifth Australian title, made light work of his first outing of 2013 with a three-set demolition of Frenchman Benoit Paire.

Third seed Murray was equally impressive in clinically dismantling Dutchman Robin Haase, 6-3, 6-1, 6-3 to progress safely to the second round.

Elsewhere as temperatures climbed on the second day of the year-opening major, former US Open champion Juan Martin Del Potro breezed in the next round and 2008 finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga won an all-French contest in straight sets over Michael Llodra.

Second seed Federer showed few signs of rustiness in his first match of the year as he demolished the 46th-ranked Paire 6-2, 6-4, 6-1 in 1hr 23min on Rod Laver Arena.

The 31-year-old Swiss maestro gave Paire little respite with six service breaks, while his own serve was rock-solid with no breaks conceded.

There was little Paire could do to stop the cascade of winners off the racquet of Federer, who is bidding to become only the second man after Australia's Roy Emerson to win five Australian Open titles.

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"I'm very happy with the first round match, total control," Federer said.

"He can be a tricky opponent, but I guess his playing style doesn't disturb me that much overall.

"I'm happy I was able to play a clean match out there today."

Murray was authoritative in his first match in Melbourne, needing just 1hr 37min to take apart the erratic Haase with eight service breaks and making just 20 unforced errors in the 25 games.

Much has changed in Murray's life since his career-transforming victory over world No 1 Novak Djokovic in last year's US Open final, and he is among the favourites at the year's opening major tournament.

Murray said he didn't notice anything significantly different in his first Grand Slam match since his Flushing Meadows triumph last September, but that it would steel him should he make the final rounds of the Australian Open.

"I think when I would see the benefits of that is if I get myself deep into a Slam this year and you're playing against the top players. That's when I think you'll draw on that experience and use it in the right way," he said.

Murray, 25, has twice been runner-up at the Australian Open. He is drawn to face Federer in the semifinals and possibly defending champion Djokovic in the final.

"It was a good start and it was nice to win in straight sets, it was the hottest day of the tournament so far," Murray said.

"It took a little while to get used to that and the court was playing much quicker and bouncier because of it."

Tsonga beat compatriot Llodra 6-4, 7-5, 6-2 in 1hr 46min on Hisense Arena, while big-hitting Canadian 13th seed Milos Raonic clocked a fastest serve of 199 km/h (158 mph) in his 3-6, 6-1, 6-2, 7-6 (7/0) win over Czech Jan Hajek.

French 14th seed Richard Gasquet had few problems with Spaniard Albert Montanes, 7-5, 6-2, 6-1, and Croatia's Marin Cilic ended Australian Marinko Matosevic's tournament in straight sets.

Wu Di was ousted in four sets by Croatia's Ivan Dodig in over three hours after making history as the first Chinese man to play a Grand Slam match.

LOCAL HOPE TOMIC ADVANCES

Local hope Bernard Tomic posted his ninth straight win of the year to cruise into the second round of the Australian Open, defeating injured Argentinian Leonardo Mayer.

Tomic recorded a routine 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 victory over the world number 72, who played with his right hand heavily strapped after being burned by a firecracker during the off-season.

Tomic, 20, said his ambition in 2013 was to reach the top 10 from his current ranking of number 43, having won his first ATP Tour title at the Sydney International this month.

"It's still a long way away and I need to stay focused, keep playing really good tennis," he said.

Tomic remained on track for a possible third-round showdown with 17-times major champion Roger Federer.

"Everyone keeps asking me about playing against Roger," Tomic said.

"I've got to win and he's got to win again and if we do, it will be an interesting match. But it's very difficult. Every player here can play."

It was Tomic's first match at a Grand Slam since John McEnroe accused him of tanking against Andy Roddick at the US Open and he said criticism levelled at him last year had been a blessing in disguise.

"I took everything on board," he said.

"It made me a better player and person."

Tomic was expecting to play 27th-seeded Martin Klizan in round two but the Slovak was upset 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 by German qualifier Daniel Brands.

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