Ruthless Federer makes flying start

Roger Federer and Andre Agassi cruised into the second round of the Australian Open today as fifth seed Carlos Moya crashed out to his Davis Cup hitting partner.

Roger Federer and Andre Agassi cruised into the second round of the Australian Open today as fifth seed Carlos Moya crashed out to his Davis Cup hitting partner.

Federer began the defence of his title in ominous fashion with a ruthless demolition of Fabrice Santoro in Melbourne.

The Swiss star took just 93 minutes to thrash his French opponent for the loss of only four games, easing into the second round with a 6-1 6-1 6-2 victory.

Agassi was not quite as emphatic but still looked in good form as he eased injury worries with a 6-4 6-3 6-0 victory over German qualifier Dieter Kindlmann.

But Moya, a potential semi-final opponent for Federer, was dumped out in four sets by Spanish qualifier Guillermo Garcia-Lopez.

Playing only his second Grand Slam, the 21-year-old world number 106 recorded the shock of the tournament so far with a 7-5 6-3 3-6 6-3 victory.

Earlier in the day Federer, a red-hot favourite to retain his title, declared himself satisfied with his 23rd consecutive victory.

“It was good, a good start,” said the 23-year-old. “I think the start of the match was important for me. That set the tone for the rest.

“And I never really gave him a chance to get back into the match. Best-of-five, an easy three-setter sometimes they look very, very easy, but I always had the feeling I still had to play some good points to win them, especially against him

“He gets back a lot of balls. But I’m happy with my performance, and that’s what counts in the end.”

Agassi pulled out of an exhibition match against Andy Roddick last week with a tendon injury but was cleared to play after an MRI scan and was happy with his fitness.

The 34-year-old, scheduled to face Federer in the quarter-finals, said: “Today I woke up feeling the best yet since it’s happened. And with the assurance that I’m not going to sort of pull anything bad, I had the green light to push through anything I might be feeling.

“And that’s what I did, I just pushed through a bit of stiffness, and then I felt like it loosened up nicely and I was okay.

“He didn’t have a lot of weapons, but he made you work and I felt as the match went on I was getting more and more comfortable and better.

“It was a good first match for me but I have to be ready to step it up from here. I’ve always played well down here. Hopefully this year will be no different.”

Moya beat Garcia-Lopez in their only previous meeting earlier this year in Chennai, but had needed a third-set tie-break to get past his Davis Cup hitting partner in the semi-final.

“It is a big disappointment,” the 1997 Australian Open finalist admitted. “I was playing well before I came here.

“I think it’s still that he played a great game. I think he’s gonna go higher in the rankings. But if I had won that first set, I think that things would have changed a little bit. But I didn’t, so I’m really sad right now to leave the tournament.”

Former champion Thomas Johansson of Sweden had a much harder time before booking his place in the second round, the 2002 winner needing five sets to get past Australia’s Peter Luczak.

Former junior star Gael Monfils enjoyed a notable victory on his senior Grand Slam debut, the 18-year-old beating American Robby Ginepri in four sets.

Monfils, who beat Britain’s Miles Kasiri in the final of junior Wimbledon last year, also won the junior titles in Australia and France and is tipped for great things.

On the opening day of the centenary championships there were also victories for Spain’s Tommy Robredo over Australian Scott Draper, and Mario Ancic cruised to a straight-sets win over Spain’s Oscar Hernandez.

Fellow Croatian Ivan Ljubicic was another comfortable winner, beating Peru’s Luis Horna 6-4 6-3 6-3.

Sweden’s Joachim Johansson, one of the game’s rising stars, later moved into the second round with a 7-6 6-2 6-3 victory over Sjeng Schalken.

In the evening match on the Rod Laver Arena, last year’s beaten finalist Marat Safin had taken the first set against Serbia’s Novak Djokovic.

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