Roger Federer reacts to a shot during the first round of the 2018 Australian Open.

Federer Makes Impressive Start to Australian Open Defence

Roger Federer lived up to his pre-tournament billing as favourite for the Australian Open with an impressive 6-3 6-4 6-3 win over Aljaz Bedene in his first round.

Federer saw main rival Rafael Nadal open his quest with an impressive win the previous day, and if there was a gauntlet thrown down it was picked up in style by the Swiss master.

Bedene did not play badly by any stretch of the imagination, he simply ran into a player who is a level or two above his own.

It wasn’t completely one-way traffic, but Federer eased through the opening set and an immediate break of serve at the start of the second took the wind from Bedene’s sails.

Bedene fashioned a couple of break-point chances in the fourth game of the second set, but Federer repelled them in style and promptly raced into a two-set lead.

The last time Federer lost in the opening round of a grand slam was 2003, and from two sets down the task was too much for Bedene.

The third set mirrored the first two, with Federer securing an early break before consolidating and easing to victory.

As first-round encounters go, it was ideal for Federer as a spirited opponent tested him at times without having to exert too much energy.

It’s a taxing fortnight in Melbourne, with temperatures tipped to ramp up in the coming days, but nothing would put you off backing Federer based on his opening match.

Up next for Federer is a clash with Jan-Lennard Struff in the second round.

Novak Djokovic dispelled any fears over his fitness with an impressive 6-1 6-2 6-4 win over Donald Young.

The former world number one has remodelled his serve in a bid to combat the elbow problem that wrecked his 2017 season. It has worked in training, and appears ready to stand up to competitive play judged on his demolition of Young.

For all it was positive to see Djokovic back on court, the win told us little with regard to where his game is at – as Young had an off day. The American coughed up 45 unforced errors over the three sets, which allowed the Serb a lot of free points.

Bigger tests will lie ahead, but under the watchful eye of his new coach Andre Agassi, it was a positive start to 2018 for Djokovic.

Stanislas Wawrinka is another champion on the comeback trail from injury and he was made to work hard to see off Ricardas Berankis 6-3 6-4 2-6 7-6(2).

Sporting a scar down his knee following surgery, the Swiss was pushed hard by his Lithuanian opponent. However, Wawrinka steadily found his range and withstood a fourth-set onslaught from Berankis to progress to the second round.