Milos Raonic cruises to 1st-round victory at Australian Open

Milos Raonic and Dustin Brown renewed their Grand Slam duel Monday night and the result was the same as the last time — a three-set win for the tall Canadian.

Serena Williams easily defeats Bencic as she pursues 23rd Grand Slam title

Milos Raonic advances to 2nd round of Australian Open

7 years ago
Duration 1:06
Canadian beats Dustin Brown in straight sets 6-3, 6-4, 6-2.

Milos Raonic and Dustin Brown renewed their Grand Slam duel Monday night (Tuesday afternoon in Australia) and the result was the same as the last time — a three-set win for the tall Canadian.

Raonic, from Thornhill, Ont., and Brown met for the first time in the first round of last year's U.S. Open, where Raonic won in straight sets.

On Monday, Raonic defeated Brown 6-3, 6-4, 6-2.

"I did what I needed to do," said Raonic. "I took care of my serve, I broke quite early in all the sets. It just dropped off a little bit when I faced a few dangers on my service games in the beginning of the third, end of the second."

The third-seeded Canadian's next opponent is unseeded Gilles Muller of Luxembourg.

"I've struggled with him," said Raonic. "I think we've played twice, he beat me twice."

Last year, as the 13th-seeded player, Raonic had his best performance at Melbourne Park, advancing to the semifinals before losing to Andy Murray.

The 26-year-old Raonic is playing in his seventh Australian Open and in his 24th major. His best result so far has been a run to the Wimbledon final last year.

Canada's Peter Polansky was down 3-0 in the fifth set of his match against Pablo Carreno-Busta when Polansky retired. The Canadian later cited the heat in Melbourne (temperatures reached almost 38 Celsius on the day) as the reason for his withdrawal.

Canada's Eugenie Bouchard plays her second-round match in the women's tournament on Tuesday (Wednesday in Australia) against China's Shuai Peng.

​Djokovic passes test

There was no easing into a title defence for Novak Djokovic, starting his Australian Open against the man who upset Rafael Nadal here last year in the first round.

Djokovic lifted when he most needed to, holding off Fernando Verdasco in a 71-minute, momentum-swinging second set before winning 6-1, 7-6 (4), 6-2. There were glares, stares and frustrated outbursts from players who met in a tense semifinal earlier this month in Doha, where Djokovic saved five match points en route to victory.

"I'm very pleased with the first round, considering I had one of the toughest first-round draws, definitely considering his form, " said Djokovic, who is aiming to be the first man to win seven Australian titles. "Just overall I'm feeling good about my performance."

Serena spreads 'message of equality'

Another six-time champion had a tough first round, with Serena Williams needing to produce some of her best tennis to get far enough ahead against Belinda Bencic that a late lapse wasn't a real worry.

And after starting her quest for a record 23rd Grand Slam title with a 6-4, 6-3 first-round win, Williams walked into her news conference wearing a black shirt with the word "Equality" printed across the front.

It was still before midnight Monday in the United States, where the holiday in honour of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. was nearly ending.

"With today being Martin Luther King Day, it's important to spread the message of equality," Williams said. "Something he talked about a lot and he tried to spread a lot, is equality and rights for everyone."

Asked if she was concerned about the future of equality in the U.S., Williams declined to get into specifics but said the issue is "a concern for just everyone in general."

Williams became engaged to Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian during the holiday break, and he was in the crowd watching her play at Rod Laver Arena.

Williams will next play Lucie Safarova, who saved nine match points before beating Yanina Wickmayer 3-6, 7-6 (7), 6-1.

Nadal starts strong

Nadal, also on the comeback from a couple of months on the sidelines following the U.S. Open with an injured left wrist, had a 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 win over Florian Mayer to go one better than he did last year in Australia.

"I'm happy to do an interview with you — last year, I didn't have the chance!" Nadal said in his on-court interview.

In a 5-hour, 15-minute encounter on Court 19, 37-year-old Ivo Karlovic held off Horacio Zeballos of Argentina 6-7 (6), 3-6, 7-5, 6-2, 22-20 in a match that set a record for most number of games (84) at the Australian Open in the tiebreak era. Karlovic also finished with a tournament-record 75 aces.

Also advancing were No. 6 Gael Monfils, No. 8 Dominic Thiem, No. 11 David Goffin, No. 13 Roberto Bautista Agut, No. 15 Grigor Dimitrov, No. 18 Richard Gasquet, No. 24 Alexander Zverev, No. 25 Gilles Simon, and No. 32 Philipp Kohlschreiber.

In late women's matches, third-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska finished off her 6-1, 4-6, 6-1 win over Tsvetana Pironkova just before midnight and No. 22 Daria Gavrilova beat Naomi Broady 3-6, 6-4, 7-5.

U.S. Open finalist Karolina Pliskova and last year's Australian semifinalist Johanna Konta, who won the titles in the main warmup tournaments in Brisbane and Sydney, advanced in straight sets.

No. 6 Dominika Cibulkova, former No 1-ranked Caroline Wozniacki, No. 14 Elena Vesnina, No. 21 Caroline Garcia, No 28 Alize Cornet and No. 30 Ekaterina Makarova also advanced.

Heather Watson extended the 2011 U.S. Open winner Sam Stosur's drought at her home Grand Slam, winning 6-3, 3-6, 6-0.

With files from CBC Sports