Roger Federer made heavy weather of little-known Andreas Seppi at the Australian Open on Monday before joining Jelena Jankovic and Novak Djokovic in the second round.
The Swiss great, who is one Grand Slam shy of Pete Sampras’ record of 14, looked to be cruising after taking the first set 6-1 before his Italian opponent took the second to a tense tie-breaker, only to lose it 7-4. Federer gritted his teeth to get through the third set 7-5 but it was a less than convincing victory.
“He was a very tough customer,” Federer said. “But I think I played well, I had to as he’s a quality player.” He added that playing night sessions was difficult, but felt his game was where it should be.
Djokovic, the third seed, saw off a late revival by Italian qualifier Andrea Stoppini to win 6-2, 6-3, 7-5. The Serb, who won his maiden Grand Slam here last year, was relieved to get off to a winning start after an indifferent month, with two defeats already. He admitted he was feeling the pressure of being the defending champion.
Earlier, world number one Jankovic brushed aside Yvonne Meusburger 6-1, 6-3 in impressive fashion as she looks for a maiden Grand Slam title to silence the critics who question her ranking. A key rival here, Russia’s Dinara Safina, wasted little time in disposing of compatriot Alla Kudryavtseva in straight sets, but French Open champion Ana Ivanovic struggled before downing Germany’s Julia Goerges 7-5, 6-3.
Jankovic said her feet were burning as temperatures soared at Melbourne Park, but managed to keep her cool as she benefited from a brutal off-season training regime.
Meanwhile, men’s seventh seed Andy Roddick was running hot as he crushed Swedish qualifier Bjorn Rehnquist 6-0, 6-2, 6-2.