MELBOURNE, Australia — Kei Nishikori advanced to the second round of the Australian Open on Monday with a four-set victory over Fabio Fognini of Italy.
Nishikori, ranked 82nd in the world, defeated his 58th-ranked opponent 6-1, 6-4, 6-7 (4-6), 6-4 on the opening day at Melbourne Park.
The 21-year-old converted eight of his 15 break points while being broken three times on his way to his first win at the Australian Open.
“Getting past the first round was one of my goals here, so I’m happy,” said Nishikori, who is making his second appearance at the Australian Open. “I feel like this is the only Grand Slam tournament where I haven’t done well.
“It was windy out there, and it was a tough match from a mental standpoint as well. I’m glad I beat a strong opponent,” he said.
Nishikori will next play Germany’s Florian Mayer, who defeated Nikolay Davydenko of Russia 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (6-4), 6-4.
In other action, defending champion Roger Federer didn’t waste any time, winning his opening match by playing like a man who doesn’t want his remarkable 7 1/2-year run of success in Grand Slams to end.
Federer was rarely troubled in beating Lukas Lacko of Slovakia 6-1, 6-1, 6-3 in 84 minutes, barely waiting for ball-boys and ball-girls to get back to their positions before serving. The win came at Rod Laver Arena, a stadium named after the player who Federer’s main rival here — Rafael Nadal — is trying to emulate.
Nadal has won three majors in a row — last year’s French Open, Wimbledon and U.S. Open. So unless Federer can win the final on Jan. 30, it will be the first time since winning Wimbledon in 2003 that the Swiss star hasn’t held at least one major title.
His 24-year-old Spanish rival is trying to make it four in a row and complete his “Rafa Slam.” Laver won all four in 1969, a true calendar year Grand Slam.
“I tried to play offensive from the start and see where it takes me,” Federer said after his easy victory over Lacko. “I was able to keep on pressing, put him on the back foot. I was really happy I chose that tactic early on to pressure him.”
Andy Roddick was rarely under pressure in his 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 win Jan Hajek of the Czech Republic. The eighth-seeded American is trying to end a Grand Slam drought. His one and only major came at the 2003 U.S. Open.
“I had a good offseason,” Roddick said. “I feel healthy and strong for the first time in a while. I certainly feel like I’m prepared.”
Caroline Wozniacki started her first major as the No. 1-ranked woman with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Argentina’s Gisela Dulko. It was 20-year-old Wozniacki’s first official tournament win of the year, following a straight-sets loss to Slovakia’s Dominika Cibulkova last week at the Sydney International and exhibition losses to No. 2 Vera Zvonareva and Kim Clijsters.
Fifth-seeded Venus Williams advanced after beating Sara Errani of Italy 6-3, 6-2. The American star is the only Williams sister in the draw this year after defending champion Serena withdrew because of a foot injury.
Justine Henin overcame a slow start to beat Indian qualifier Sania Mirza 5-7, 6-3, 6-1.