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Leading ladies steal show

Clijsters, Wozniacki cruise into Round II while home hope Tomic rallies back from two sets down to send Verdasco packing in men's singles. Day 1

sports Updated: Jan 17, 2012 02:14 IST
Melbourne,Kim Clijsters,Caroline Wozniacki

Defending champion Kim Clijsters and world number one Caroline Wozniacki stormed into round two of the Australian Open Monday as the women's favourites showed early form.

Third seed Victoria Azarenka and China's Li Na, the French Open champion and last year's runner-up, also both passed their first tests on a day of searing heat at Melbourne Park.

Clijsters saw off Portugese qualifier Maria Joao Koehler 7-5, 6-1, soon after Li won a tough first round match against Ksenia Pervak of Kazakhstan 6-3, 6-1.

And on a day when all the big guns came out firing, third seeded Belarusian Victoria Azarenka demolished Britain's Heather Watson 6-1, 6-0, and 2010 French Open champion Francesca Schiavone crushed Spaniard Laura Pous-Tio 6-1, 6-3.

In the last match on centre court, Wozniacki withstood an early barrage from Rodionova before turning the screws and cruising to victory 6-2, 6-1.

Pennetta sent packing
The highest profile casualty on day one was 19th seed Flavia Pennetta, who fell to Russian qualifier Nina Bratchikova 6-3, 1-6, 6-2.

Pennetta injured her back in the season-opening tournament in Auckland and subsequently withdrew from Sydney last week. She battled hard but eventually succumbed in one-and-a-half hours.

Nadal, Federer through
Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer eased into the Australian Open's second round Monday as local teenager Bernard Tomic stole the show with an epic five-set upset of Fernando Verdasco.

Tomic, his country's top-ranked men's player at 38, dug deep as he came from two sets down to oust the experienced Spanish 22nd seed in a four hours-plus thriller on a sweltering Rod Laver Arena.

Nadal brushed aside American challenger Alex Kuznetsov 6-4, 6-1, 6-1, while Federer administered a 7-5, 6-2, 6-2 win over the 172-ranked Alexander Kudryavtsev.

First Published: Jan 16, 2012 23:41 IST