No early problems for Djokovic

Novak Djokovic could not hide his satisfaction after completing the first step on the road to a place in history at the Australian Open.

Bidding to become the first man in the Open era to win three successive titles in Melbourne, Djokovic hit the ground running to brush aside Frenchman Paul-Henri Mathieu.

On his first appearance on Rod Laver Arena since his epic five-set triumph over Rafael Nadal 12 months ago, the world No 1 had a more straightforward afternoon, winning 6-2 6-4 7-5.

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The first two sets were routine and although Mathieu upped his level as the match went on, Djokovic secured a break late in the third to move through to a meeting with American Ryan Harrison.

Fourth seed David Ferrer and fifth seed Tomas Berdych also advanced with ease.

Ferrer proved too strong for Belgian Olivier Rochus, winning 6-3 6-4 6-2, and Berdych had little trouble in dispatching American Michael Russell 6-3 7-5 6-3.

Nicolas Almagro required five sets to see off American qualifier Steve Johnson, as did Fernando Verdasco, who hit back from two sets to one and a break down to beat David Goffin.

There were also wins for Japanese star Kei Nishikori, Stanislas Wawrinka and Mikhail Youzhny.

But 11th seed Juan Monaco could not join them in round two after going down in straight sets to Russia’s Andrey Kuznetsov.

No 8 seed Janko Tipsarevic ended the hopes of home favourite Lleyton Hewitt, taking the match 7-6 (7/4) 7-5 6-3.

Stoppage is to Watson’s advantage

British No 1 Heather Watson was made to dig deep before overcoming Alexandra Cadantu and securing a place in the second round of the Australian Open.

For a set and a half, Watson was second best in a low-quality encounter not helped by the blustery conditions on Court 13.

But after both players were treated by medical staff during a lengthy stoppage, the 20-year-old from Guernsey appeared revitalised, cruising through the remainder of the match to go through 2-6 6-3 6-2.

Watson confirmed later that the injury time-out had come to her rescue after she started the match drained of energy and feeling faint.

“It did help me,” she said. “It gave me time to eat, get some fuel in me and just get recharged and motivated. At the beginning I definitely wasn’t there, I wasn’t playing well.

“I didn’t have much energy today, I don’t know what it was. I am going to see the doctor after.”

When she started suffering from cramps after the restart, Watson knew she had to go for her shots to keep the points as short as possible.

“I knew I couldn’t move,” she added. “I couldn’t be too tense so I just loosened up on everything and just hit it. I’m just so glad that I did cramp.”

Watson now faces Kazakhstan’s Pervak, who beat 32nd seed Mona Barthel.

Maria Sharapova enjoyed a ruthless 6-0 6-0 demolition of countrywoman Olga Puchkova.