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Strong start for Djokovic

Dust-up: Rafael Nadal criticized Roger Federer, who says the matter is resolved.

Associated Press

Dust-up: Rafael Nadal criticized Roger Federer, who says the matter is resolved.

MELBOURNE, Australia — Anyone who didn't know Novak Djokovic won three of the four Grand Slam titles last year only had to look at his shoes.

That's if his emphatic first-round win today at the Australian Open wasn't evidence enough.

Djokovic started his Australian Open defense with a 6-2, 6-0, 6-0 win over Paolo Lorenzi, wearing a pair of red-white-and-blue shoes with images of his three major trophies on the sides and a Serbian flag on the heels.

He gave up an early break but immediately broke back at love as he won the next 17 games, saving a break point in the opening game of the second set.

"It was a great performance for (my) first official match of the 2012 season," said the top-ranked Djokovic, whose only loss at a Grand Slam last year was in the French Open semifinal.

On the women's side, second-ranked Petra Kvitova and No. 4 Maria Sharapova advanced with lopsided wins.

After surrendering her opening service game with a double fault, Wimbledon champion Kvitova won 12 consecutive games in a 6-2, 6-0 win over Vera Dushevina.

Kvitova underlined her growing stature on the tour by breaking her Russian rival's serve three times in each set.

Sharapova won the first eight games of a 6-0, 6-1 win over Gisela Dulko in her first match since returning from a left ankle injury.

The 2008 champion needed just 58 minutes for the win and the only game she lost was on her own serve. She then saved three break points in the last game before serving out the match.

Rafael Nadal, who lost his No. 1 ranking and six finals to Djokovic last year, wondered if he'd even be able to play his first-round match at the Australian Open on Monday after his right knee cracked and cramped and caused him "unbelievable pain" on the eve of the tournament.

After hours of medical tests and treatment, Nadal decided to play but was "scared" when he took the court against qualifier Alex Kuznetsov. Judging by the score line, the outcome looked matter of fact: Nadal won 6-4, 6-1, 6-1.

Third-seeded Federer started his bid for a 17th major title with a 7-5, 6-2, 6-2 win over Alexander Kudryavtsev, showing no signs of a back problem that forced him out of a Doha tournament this month. He then batted away any notion of a feud with Nadal. Federer conceded that players differed on ways of resolving certain issues and "things are fine between us … We can't always agree on everything."

Defending champion Kim Clijsters and French Open winner Li Na also advanced Monday along with top-ranked Caroline Wozniacki.

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Key results

Men: Novak Djokovic (1) d. Paolo Lorenzi 6-2, 6-0, 6-0; Rafael Nadal (2) d. Alex Kuznetsov 6-4, 6-1, 6-1; Roger Federer (3) d. Alexander Kudryavtsev 7-5, 6-2, 6-2; Mardy Fish (8) d. Gilles Muller 6-4, 6-4, 6-2

Women: Caroline Wozniacki (1) d. Anastasia Rodionova 6-2, 6-1; Petra Kvitova (2) d. Vera Dushevina 6-2, 6-0; Maria Sharapova (4) d. Gisela Dulko 6-0, 6-1; Kim Clijsters (11) d. Maria Joao Koehler 7-5, 6-1

TV: 7 p.m. Tennis; 9 p.m. ESPN2

Strong start for Djokovic 01/16/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, January 17, 2012 12:08am]
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