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Federer rolls in first round; Wawrinka, Djokovic make winning injury returns

Bill Scott, DPA on

Published in Tennis

MELBOURNE, Australia -- Five-time champion Roger Federer made a running start to his Australian Open title defense on Tuesday, with the Swiss second seed hammering out a 6-3, 6-4, 6-3 over Aljaz Bedene to glide into the second round.

The 36-year-old Swiss executed with ruthless efficiency just over 90 minutes with a dozen aces and 41 winners.

"I'm hoping for this year to go well again," Federer said after leading the ATP with seven titles in 2017. "I'm not sure if I can match 2017, guys are coming back form injury and Rafa (Nadal) is in top shape.

"I can't control it all. Last year is in the vault. This year I hope to stay healthy and give myself a chance."

Former titleholders Stan Wawrinka and Novak Djokovic showed improving form as the 2017 injury victims stormed ahead as well.

Neither of had played since Wimbledon, with Wawrinka undergoing knee surgery and Djokovic spending months fixing a long-term elbow problem.

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Ninth seed Wawrinka, who triumphed over Nadal at Melbourne Park in the 2014 final, showed his fighting spirit to hold off Lithuanian Richard Berankis 6-3, 6-4, 2-6, 7-6 (7-2).

The 32-year-old winner has never lost an opening match in Melbourne, while Berankis remains winless at the Grand Slam level since the 2016 U.S. Open.

Djokovic, a six-time Melbourne champion, crushed American Donald Young 6-1, 6-2, 6-4.

"It felt great to be back on the court and compete again, obviously you don't know how you're going to start off," Djokovic said.

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