Reigning champion Novak Djokovic‘s defence of his Australian Open title got off to a winning start, as the world number one easily dispatched Fernando Verdasco in straight sets.
The 12-time grand slam champion was in top form as he saw off the threat of his Spanish opponent, overcoming a tough second set tie break to win 6-1 7-6 (7-4) 6-2 in an entertaining match in Melbourne.
There was also an emphatic win for world number nine Rafael Nadal, as the Spaniard kept his hopes of a first grand slam title since 2014 on track with victory over Florian Mayer.
The 30-year-old struggled with a wrist injury over the past 12 months but he avoided a repeat of his early Australian Open exit last year with a commanding 6-3 6-4 6-4 straight sets win over his German opponent.
Last year’s beaten Wimbledon finalist Milos Raonic got over his first hurdle with ease, as the Canadian hit 12 aces and 46 winners in a comfortable 6-3 6-4 6-2 victory over Germany’s Dustin Brown.
Belgium’s David Goffin was made to work for his place in the second round, as the 11th seed came from 4-3 down in the deciding test to edge past American Reilly Opelka 6-4 4-6 6-2 4-6 6-4.
Austrian Dominic Thiem also had to dig deep to seal his progress at the Australian Open, as the eighth seed came from a set down to see off the challenge of Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff 4-6 6-4 6-4 6-3.
There were easier times for David Ferrer as the Spaniard cruised past Australian Omar Jasika 6-3 6-0 6-2 in straight sets, while fellow Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut also enjoyed an easy day at the office with a 6-3 6-1 6-1 win against Argentina Guido Pella.
France’s Richard Gasquet is also easily through after a 6-4 6-4 6-2 victory over Australian Blake Mott and is joined in the next round by compatriot Gaels Monfils, with the sixth seed enjoying a comfortable 6-2 6-3 6-2 win over Jiri Vesley of Czech Republic.
Gilles Simon joined his fellow Frenchman in round two after an easy 6-1 6-3 6-3 win over USA’s Michael Mmoh, but Luxembourg’s Gilles Muller needed two tie-breaks in his 7-6 (8/6) 7-6 (7./5) 6-3 straight sets win over American Taylor Fritz.
Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov overcame a first set tie break to book his spot in the second round with a 7-6 6-3 6-3 win over Australia’s Christopher O’Connell, while Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis advanced after his Russian opponent Mikhail Youzhny retired while trailing 3-6 0-3.
Great Britain’s Kyle Edmund joined compatriots Dan Evans and Andy Murray in the second round, with a superb 6-2 7-5 6-3 win over Colombia’s Santiago Giraldo.
There was disappointment for Joao Sousa, as Aussie Jordan Thompson battled from two sets down to send the Portuguese player packing with a 6-7 (2/7) 4-6 6-3 6-2 6-1 five set victory.
There was history on court 19 as Croatia’s Ivo Karlovic edged out Argentine Horacio Zeballos in a thrilling encounter to set a new record for the longest match at the Australian Open, since tie-breaks were introduced for the first four sets in the 1970s.
20th seed Karlovic came from two sets down to force Zeballos into a decider and after a total of 84 games in the final set, the Croatian emerged with an incredible 6-7 (6/8) 3-6 7-5 6-2 22-20 victory.
In women’s action, six-time Australian Open Serena Williams got her tournament off to a winning start as the American chases a record 23rd grand slam title.
It took the 35-year-old just 79 minutes to breeze past Swiss teenager Belinda Bencic, as she put any doubts about her fitness to bed with an emphatic 6-4 6-3 victory in Melbourne.
Next up for Williams is a second round test against Lucie Safarova, as the Czech player had to save nine match points in a second set tie-breaker, before booking her passage through with a hard-fought 3-6 7-6 (9/7) 6-1 win over Belgium’s Yanina Wickmayer.
Johanna Konta would love to follow-up victory in the Syndey International by winning her first grand slam title in Melbourne and the British number one got her tournament off to a convincing start with victory over Kirsten Flipkens.
The 25-year-old got off to a nervy start and dropped set point up 5-4 in the first set, but she soon settled as she scored another break point on the Belgian on her way to bagging a 7-5 6-2 first round victory.
Konta’s compatriot Heather Watson overcame a tough test from Australian Sam Stousr to join her fellow Briton in the second round with a 6-3 3-6 6-0 win, but Naomi Broady is out at the first hurdle after the Briton fell to a 6-3 4-6 5-7 defeat to Australian Daria Gavrilova.
Third seed Agnieszka Radwanska held off a comeback by Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova to book her spot in the next round with a 6-1 4-6 6-1 win, while Timea Bacsinzsky was pushed to her limits by Camila Giorgi as the Swiss woman edged to a 6-4 3-6 7-5 win over the Italian.
Former world number one Caroline Wozniacki easily beat Australian Arina Rodionova 6-1 6-2, while Beaten US Open finalist Karolina Pliskova hopes of winning a first grand slam title got off to a flying start with a 6-2 6-0 victory over Spain’s Sara Sorribes Tormo.
Czech Republic’s Barbora Strycova also marched into round two with a 6-3 6-2 win over Russia’s Elizaveta Kulichkova, while Ekaterina Makarova earned a hard-fought 6-0 4-6 6-1 victory over fellow Russian Ekaterina Alexandrova.