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MELBOURNE, Australia — Novak Djokovic was having an easy time of it in his first-round match at the Australian Open, so he decided to experiment by coming to the net.
Like pretty much everything he does on the tennis court these days, it was an unqualified success. He easily beat Paolo Lorenzi 6-2, 6-0, 6-0 Tuesday to advance to the second round, as did five-time Australian Open champion Serena Williams.
Djokovic is attempting to join Rod Laver, Pete Sampras, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in winning three straight Grand Slam singles titles.
“When you’re 3- , 4-love up, why not try some other things, something that is not characteristic for your game,” said Djokovic, who usually doesn’t stray too far from the baseline. “But I am definitely working on my net game, approaching the short balls as much as I can, and take my chances.”
Williams appears to have recovered from a left ankle injury that forced her out of the Brisbane International two weeks ago, topping, Tamira Paszek 6-3, 6-2.
Williams broke Paszek in the fifth game of the second set, then blasted four aces past the Austrian player in the next game for a 4-2 lead. She set up match point with an ace, then used a service winner to clinch it in 79 minutes.
“I’m definitely a night owl, I can stay up all night,” Williams said of the late finish.
In an afternoon match on the same court, U.S. Open women’s champion and Australian hope Sam Stosur was beaten by Sorana Cirstea 7-6 (2), 6-3. The Romanian later told the crowd that “probably the whole country hates me now.”
Stosur’s first-round loss mirrors that of Petra Kvitova, who went out in the first round of last year’s U.S. Open after winning Wimbledon.
“I’m not sure if it’s one of my biggest matches, but it feels like that now,” said Cirstea, who had lost both her previous matches against Stosur.
Stosur saved three match points while serving, but finally lost it when her looping forehand drifted over the baseline. No Australian has won the national title since Chris O’Neil in 1978.
“Certainly not the way that I wanted, not just this tournament, but the whole summer,” to play out, Stosur said. “There’s not any other word for it but a total disappointment.”
Second-ranked Kvitova and No. 4 Maria Sharapova advanced. After surrendering her opening service game with a double-fault, Kvitova won 12 consecutive games in a 6-2, 6-0 win over Russia’s Vera Dushevina.