MELBOURNE        -          Former world number ones–Roger Federer and Serena Williams got off to clinical starts in the opening round of the Australian Open on Monday. While Federer brushed aside Steve Johnson to race into the second round, Serena thrashed Anastasia Potapova.

The 38-year old Federer eased past his rival 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 to kickstart his bid for a 21st Grand Slam title in style. He will next take on either French qualifier Quentin Halys or Serbian Filip Krajinovic. Federer said: “I just haven’t played proper matches in many, many weeks, and a lot of guys, probably 95 per cent of the guys, are coming here with matches. So I’m not one of those guys. Now I have one. Best of five, too, which is even better. So I think for me really the first three rounds are key to get going, to get used to the pressure, or just to stay calm if you’re down a set and a break or whatever it might be.

“This is sort of the unknown that can be a little bit scary at times. But today there was none of that because I broke early each set and was able to get on a roll, play freely after that. And also felt I had margin. Anything I was doing I felt like I had the game under control. That might not be the case in the next round, so I just think I have to be careful. Round-by-round, point-for-point mentality. I know other guys that are playing extremely well right now so I think it’s just important to stay very calm about things right now,” he added.

Meanwhile, 13th seed Denis Shapovalov had a big row with the umpire for throwing his racquet in frustration as he lost his opener 6-3, 7-6 (9/7), 6-1, 7-6 (7/3) to Hungarian Marton Fucsovics in a big upset on day one. In other matches of men’s draw, Greek sixth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, who beat Federer en route to last year’s semis, crushed Salvatore Caruso 6-0, 6-2, 6-3.

Air quality was rated ‘good’ as the first round started on Monday but about four hours later play was suspended on outside courts when the heavens opened in Melbourne. In the women’s event, while Serena beat Potapova 6-0, 6-3 in 58 minutes, defending champ Naomi Osaka began her Australian Open title defence by dismantling unseeded Czech Marie Bouzkova. The 22-year-old Japanese roared past her rival 6-2, 6-4 in 80 minutes.

Elsewhere, world number one and local girl Ashleigh Barty braved a scare before powering into the second round. The 23-year-old saw off Ukraine’s Lesia Tsurenko 5-7, 6-1, 6-1. Caroline Wozniacki also started with a good win as the 2018 champion beat Kristie Ahn 6-1, 6-3 to reach the second round. American Coco Gauff, all of 15, got the better of Venus Williams – the second time the teenager has dumped the veteran out in a Grand Slam first round as she won 7-6 (7/5), 6-3.