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Imperious Federer starts in style

  • Story Highlights
  • Top seed Roger Federer advances to second round of Australian Open
  • Novak Djokovic beat Benjamin Becker 6-0 6-2 7-6 in his first-round match
  • No. 10 seed David Nalbandian sees off Australian Robert Smeets 6-1 6-1 7-6
  • Brazilian Gustavo Kuerten will retire from tennis after this year's French Open
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MELBOURNE, Australia -- Top seed and defending champion Roger Federer barely broke sweat as he eased into the second round of the Australian Open with a 6-0 6-3 6-0 win over Argentina's Diego Hartfield in a night match at Melbourne Park on Tuesday.

Federer showed little sign of his enforced layoff as he easily beat Hartfield.

Federer had been troubled by a stomach virus in the build up to the season's opening grand slam but it hardly showed as he breezed through the opening nine games without reply.

Hartfield got on the scoresheet by finally holding his service but he could apply little pressure on the Swiss maestro and quickly subsided in the third set.

The match lasted barely an hour and a quarter and was finished with a Federer ace on the first of three match points.

Federer is aiming for a hat-trick of titles in Australia and his 13th grand slam crown.

"I feel good and happy to be back playing as always," he said.

"I was never in doubt of not playing at the Open and I had a week to recover and could have played a match at Kooyong last Saturday.

"I took an extra day off to get ready and practised at the stadium and it paid off tonight," added Federer who plays Fabrice Santoro of France in the last 64.

If the seeding's go to plan, Federer could face third seed Novak Djokovic in the semifinals and earlier on Tuesday the Serbian also progressed easily into the second round.

He also treated the crowd to his hilarious impression of Russian tennis ace Maria Sharapova.

After Djokovic beat Benjamin Becker 6-0 6-2 7-6, the television commentator implored Djokovic to do one of his impressions of another player -- specifically Sharapova -- that have generated huge attention on YouTube.

At first, he resisted -- "I don't want to offend anybody," he said.

But he soon gave in and did a reasonable imitation, right down to the Russian player's tendency to brush strands of her long blonde hair back over her ears as she prepares to serve.

The crowd gave him a standing ovation, and Djokovic later assured a news conference that Sharapova "doesn't mind" the impersonations.

"She's OK with it," he said.

Third-ranked Djokovic raced through the first set in just 22 minutes, generating sympathy for underdog Becker, who couldn't seem to find anything that worked and won only three points on his serve.

About the only pain that Djokovic suffered early was self-inflicted. He had to call for the trainer after the fifth game to treat a small cut on his left knee from hitting himself with his racket.

Becker, looking increasingly disconsolate and frustrated, got a loud ovation when he held to win his first game. But Djokovic ran off the last four games of the second set.

The third set turned into a struggle.

Tenth seed David Nalbandian showed he has recovered from back spasms that forced him out of the Kooyong exhibition last week to beat Australian Robert Smeets 6-1 6-1 7-6.

Home hope and 19th seed Lleyton Hewitt also easily advanced as did 2005 champion Marat Safin and 2006 runner-up Marcos Baghdatis, who beat 2002 champion Thomas Johansson 7-6 6-2 3-6 6-3.

Safin and Baghdatis will face each other in the second round.

But 17th seed Ivan Ljubicic of Croatia was a first round casualty, beaten 6-7 6-3 6-0 7-6 by Dutchman Robin Haase.

Three-time French Open champion Gustavo Kuerten says he will retire from professional tennis after playing at Roland Garros this year.

A chronic hip injury has restricted Kuerten to only 26 ATP-level matches since late 2004.

The 31-year-old began his pro career in 1995, and earned his greatest success on the red clay in Paris, where he was champion in 1997, 2000 and 2001.

Kuerten reached Number-1 in 2000 and became the first South American in ATP rankings history to finish the year on top. His limited play has dropped him to 679th.

Along with Federer and Rafael Nadal, Kuerten is the only active player with three or more Grand Slam titles. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

Copyright 2008 CNN. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Associated Press contributed to this report.

All About Australian OpenTennisNovak DjokovicBenjamin Becker

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