David Ferrer showed no signs of fatigue as he entered his 11thsuccessive Australian Open on the back of his fourth tournament victory in Auckland last week. In just under two hours, Ferrer slammed out a straight-sets 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 win against Belgium’s Oliver Rochus in the first round.
With the withdrawal of current world number four Rafael Nadal, Ferrer is the highest-ranked Spaniard in the tournament. Seeded four, he will face American Tim Smyczek in the second round. After the Australian Open Ferrer will displace Nadal as the fourth-ranked man in the new ATP ranking.
Victory did come cheaply for Spain’s Fernando Verdasco, who was matched against the 22-year-old charging Belgian star David Goffin. Goffin, entering his first Australian Open, has pushed his ranking up 125 spots in the last 12 months.
Unlike Verdasco’s 2012 first-round drop, the experienced Spaniard pushed hard in the final two sets to see off his young challenger. Hitting 45 winners in just over three hours, Verdasco took a final victory of 6-3, 3-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.
Verdasco is once again positioned as the number 22 seed in 2013 as he enters his 10thstraight Australian Open. His second-round clash will see him face-to-face with another Belgian, the veteran Xavier Malisse, who defeated Pablo Andújar in straight sets earlier in the day.
In only his second Australian Open, Roberto Bautista Agut defeated Fabio Fognini 6-0, 2-6, 6-4, 3-6, 6-1. Having fallen in the first round in Melbourne last year, the 24-year-old Spaniard faces a tough second game against Austrian number one Jurgen Meltzer.
Feliciano López also guaranteed his place in the second round by defeating Arnau Bruges with 26 aces in a straight-sets win. Joining him are Nicolás Almagro and Daniel Gimeno-Traver.
Almagro, seeded 10th, had to fight for his second-round place against American Steve Johnson in a marathon 7-5, 6-7 (4), 6-2, 6-7 (6), 6-2 win. Gimeno-Traver was also forced to a fifth set to beat Lukaz Kubot 6-7 (4), 6-4, 6-0, 4-6, 6-4.
The last match of the day saw Albert Ramos succumb in a four-hour, 15-minute five-setter against Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis, a 2006 finalist at Melbourne Park.
In the women’s singles, Anabel Medina failed to reach the second round after a 6-2, 6-4 loss.