Australian Open 2018: Roger Federer beats Aljaz Bedene in first round

2018 Australian Open
Dates: 15-28 January Venue: Melbourne Park
Coverage: Watch highlights on BBC Two, the BBC Sport website and app. Live commentary on the best matches on BBC Radio 5 live, 5 live sports extra and online.

Defending champion Roger Federer outclassed former Briton Aljaz Bedene 6-3 6-4 6-3 to reach the Australian Open second round in Melbourne.

The Swiss produced a majestic display to show why he is favourite to win his sixth Australian Open and 20th Grand Slam title at the age of 36.

Bedene, who has switched his allegiance back to Slovenia, played well but the result was never in doubt.

Federer won in 99 minutes and will face Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff next.

He broke Bedene’s serve in the fourth game of the first set in which he conceded only three points on his serve.

The five-time Australian champion pounced immediately at the start of the second to gain another break and eased through the rest of the match, finishing with 41 winners against a player who has now made six appearances in the tournament without a win.

Federer is seeded second behind Rafael Nadal, whom he beat in last year’s final, but with doubts over the Spaniard’s fitness plus other long-term rivals Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka, the Swiss is seen as the man to beat this year.

“I am hoping for another good year,” said Federer, who also won Wimbledon for a record eighth time in 2017.

“I am not sure it will go that well because last year went so well and I’m a year older, Rafa’s looking in tip-top shape and others guys are coming back.

“Last year was a fairytale and I can’t control everything. Last year could be my favourite year of my career but I am hoping to stay healthy, give myself chances and play my very best in the big matches like last year.”

Will Ferrell interviewed Roger Federer after the Swiss' win
Will Ferrell joined John McEnroe to interview Federer in the guise of his alter ego Ron Burgundy

The only time Federer looked remotely stumped came during a post-match interview conducted by American comedian Will Ferrell who told him he had played like a “silky gazelle”.

“Don’t they get eaten in the end?” replied Federer before being asked whether he was a witch or a vampire and whether his age-defying performances were down to a diet of wombat meat.


Wawrinka returns with hard-fought win

Former champion Stan Wawrinka battled past Ricardas Berankis 6-3 6-4 2-6 7-6 (7-2) on his return from injury.

The ninth seed was playing his first match since having knee surgery after a first-round exit at Wimbledon in July.

The Swiss won the opening two sets, before losing seven successive games as Berankis took the third set and moved 3-0 up.

But Wawrinka recovered to take the tie-break and set up a match with American Tennys Sandgren.

“It was a tough battle and I’m really happy to win my first match here after six months out,” Wawrinka, 32, said after taking two hours and 47 minutes to see off the Lithuanian world number 141.

“For sure I still have some pain. It depends the way I’m moving, how I push on it. But in general, it’s going in the right direction. That’s the best news.”


Raonic suffers shock early defeat

Milos Raonic, the 22nd seed, suffered his earliest Grand Slam exit in seven years after he was knocked out in the first round by Slovakia’s Lukas Lacko.

The Canadian, who tore his right calf muscle in October not long after returning from wrist surgery, lost 6-7 (5-7) 7-5 6-4 7-6 (7-4) to the world number 86.

“I wasn’t sharp and I struggled physically, thankfully not from injury, but from fitness and preparedness and that caught up with me a lot,” said Raonic.

Fourth seed Alexander Zverev progressed with a 6-1 7-6 (7-5) 7-5 victory over Italy’s Thomas Fabbiano and fifth seed Dominic Thiem saw off Argentina’s Guido Pella 6-4 6-4 6-4.

Seventh seed David Goffin hit 55 winners to seal a 6-7 (3-7) 6-3 6-2 6-4 win over German qualifier Matthias Bachinger and 13th seed Sam Querrey is also safely through after beating Spain’s Feliciano Lopez 6-3 6-4 6-2.

Meanwhile, Fernando Verdasco, ranked 40th, knocked out fellow Spaniard and 20th seed Roberto Bautista Agut 6-1 7-5 7-5.

Argentina’s Juan Martin del Potro, back in the world’s top 10 for the first time since 2014, beat American Frances Tiafoe 6-3 6-4 6-3.


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