Potro, Djokovic coast through at Kooyong Tennis
MELBOURNE: World number three Novak Djokovic and U.S. Open champion Juan Martin del Potro kicked off their Australian Open preparations with first-round wins at the Kooyong Classic in Melbourne on Wednesday.
Del Potro cruised to a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Croatian Ivan Ljubicic, before Serbian Djokovic made light work of experienced German Tommy Haas 6-2, 6-3 at the eight-man invitational event.
After breaking the 24th-ranked Croatian in the opening game, Del Potro cracked two forehand winners to set up two set points at 5-3, and was duly handed the set when his opponent double-faulted.
Ljubicic raised his game after conceding an early break in the second, clubbing three aces in a row to save two match points at 5-2, then prising a break-back point in the following game.
The towering Argentine, however, held serve with an ace and sealed the win on his fourth match point after the Croatian netted a forehand.
The 2008 Australian Open champion Djokovic raced to a one-set lead after breaking 18th-ranked Haas early and carried the momentum into the second in a controlled display.
Fernando Verdasco of Spain and Fernando Gonzalez of Chile were scheduled to play later on Wednesday, before Swedish world number eight Robin Soderling''s match against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France.