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Letdown? Not for Wozniacki

Finding a way: Tampa resident Mardy Fish, the No. 16 seed, drops the first two sets against Victor Hanescu but cuts down on his unforced errors for a 2-6, 4-6, 6-3, 7-5, 6-3 victory.

Associated Press

Finding a way: Tampa resident Mardy Fish, the No. 16 seed, drops the first two sets against Victor Hanescu but cuts down on his unforced errors for a 2-6, 4-6, 6-3, 7-5, 6-3 victory.

MELBOURNE, Australia — Caroline Wozniacki started her first major as the No. 1-ranked woman with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Argentina's Gisela Dulko early today in the Australian Open.

Wozniacki didn't face a break point in the first set and converted her only chance.

Dulko, the top-ranked doubles player, tested Wozniacki in the second set and pulled level at 4-4 with a service break, but the Danish player broke back and served it out on her second match point after a double-fault on her first.

Wozniacki won six tournaments in 2010 and can retain the top spot by reaching the semifinals.

"My dream when I was a little girl was to reach No. 1 in the world, and that happened last year. But it's a new year, a new start," she said. "I'm just looking forward to it."

Meanwhile, No. 16 Mardy Fish rallied from two sets down to win. Fish, a Tampa resident, cut down his unforced errors in the third set and continued that through, getting the decisive break in the seventh game of the fifth set then converting his fourth match point for a 2-6, 4-6, 6-3, 7-5, 6-3 victory over Romania's Victor Hanescu.

No. 18 Sam Querrey was the first of the men's seeded players ousted. The American lost 5-7, 6-2, 3-6, 6-1, 8-6 to Poland's Lukasz Kubot, while No. 12 Gael Monfils rallied from two sets and a break down to beat Thiemo De Bakker 6-7 (5-7), 2-6, 7-5, 6-2, 6-1.

No. 26 Juan Monaco of Argentina advanced in straight sets over Simon Gruel, who got a spot in the main draw when Julien Benneteau of France withdrew because of an infected finger on his playing hand.

Defending champion Roger Federer played Lukas Lacko of Slovakia late in the third match in Rod Laver Arena.

In other women's matches, Maria Sharapova won for the first time at Melbourne Park since taking the 2008 title, beating Thai veteran Tamarine Tanasugarn 6-1, 6-3.

Sharapova, the former top-ranked player who missed the 2009 Australian Open because of a shoulder injury and was ousted in the first round last year, struggled with her serve and was inconsistent in the second set. After losing the opening service game at love, the Russian won seven straight games to take a 6-1, 1-0 lead.

Tamarine rallied and had a game point on serve for a 4-1 lead, but 14th-seeded Sharapova broke back and regained momentum, winning the last five games. But Sharapova had trouble finding range with her serve. She had 10 double faults and five aces. Nerves had a role in that.

"I definitely felt that in the beginning. I knew I had an early exit last year and didn't want that to happen this year," said Sharapova, who has the goal in Australia of "staying aggressive and little by little trying to get my game better, maybe to where it was a few years ago, and maybe better than that."

French Open champion Francesca Schiavone, the sixth seed, advanced with a 6-7 (4-7), 6-2, 6-4 win over Arantxa Parra Santonja of Spain. No. 20 Kaia Kanepi of Estona beat Slovakia's Magdalena Rybarikova 2-6, 6-4, 6-3, and No. 29 Dominika Cibul­kova of Slovakia advanced 6-2, 6-7 (4-7), 6-4 over Germany's Angelique Kerber.

>>Fast facts

Key results

The first day featured few upsets, with American Sam Querrey, the No. 18 seed, being the top one to fall.

Men: Gael Monfils (12) d. Thiemo de Bakker 6-7 (5-7), 2-6, 7-5, 6-2, 6-1; Lukasz Kubot d. Sam Querrey (18) 5-7, 6-2, 3-6, 6-1, 8-6; Juan Monaco (26) d. Simon Greul 7-6 (7-5), 7-6 (7-4), 6-2

Women: Caroline Woz­niacki (1) d. Gisela Dulko 6-3, 6-4; Francesca Schiavone (6) d. Arantxa Parra Santonja 6-7 (4-7), 6-2, 6-4; Maria Sharapova (14) d. Tamarine Tanasugarn 6-1, 6-3; Kaia Kanepi (20) d. Magdalena Rybarikova 2-6, 6-4, 6-3; Dominika Cibulkova (29) d. Angelique Kerber 6-2, 6-7 (4-7), 6-4

Today on TV: 7 p.m., Tennis; 9 p.m., ESPN2

Letdown? Not for Wozniacki 01/16/11 [Last modified: Monday, January 17, 2011 12:30am]
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