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Federer, Nadal, Sharapova off to powerful start as Australian Open kicks off in Melbourne

Federer, Nadal, Sharapova off to powerful start as Australian Open kicks off in Melbourne
This year’s opening Grand Slam tournament has just kicked off, pitting the world’s best tennis players against each other for the prestigious title of Australian Open champion.

While the vast majority of serious contenders reached the second round, there was one notable exception in British star, Andy Murray, who was eliminated from the tournament.

READ MORE: Andy Murray bravely exits Aus Open 2019 at 1st round after heroic fightback

Despite vigorous attempts to salvage the match, the two-time Wimbledon champion lost a nail-biting, five-set thriller to Spaniard Roberto Bautista 4-6, 4-6, 7-6, 7-6, 2-6.

Murray lost the two opening sets 6-4 before heroically winning two tie-breaks in a row to revive his hopes in the match. Unfortunately for the British player, his efforts were in vain as he was sent packing after losing the decisive set 6-2.

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Spanish tennis icon Rafal Nadal successfully overcame the first round barrier, dispatching Australian wildcard James Duckworth in straight sets, 6-4, 6-3, 7-5.

The 2009 Australian Open champion got off to a blistering start, immediately breaking his rival in the opening game to claim the first set in 39 minutes.

World number two Nadal faced fierce resistance in the second set, allowing Duckworth to take a 2-0 lead, but then reversed the course of the match to seal a solid victory in two following sets.

Third seed Roger Federer experienced few problems in his first-round encounter, confidently ousting Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan 6-3, 6-4, 6-4.

The 17-time Grand Slam winner, who hadn’t played since his US Open semi-final loss in September, said it wasn’t easy to return on court following a lengthy break.

"It's not easy to come back after a lot of months, and especially against a player who's super aggressive. I'm very, very happy to be through," he said.

Russian rising star, 10th seed Karen Kachanov also reached the second round of the 2019 Australian Open, defeating Peter Gojowczyk of Germany in four sets.

The 22-year-old surprisingly lost the opening set 6-3 but then regained her composure to dominate the three following sets 6-3, 6-4, 6-3 to seal a spot in the second round.

Five-time Grand Slam winner Maria Sharapova started her Melbourne campaign impressively by registering a ‘double-bagel’ win over Britain’s Harriet Dart.

The match, which lasted just 63 minutes, was fully controlled by the Russian, who didn’t lose a single game to her lower-ranked opponent.

The 31-year-old recorded her first double-bagel victory since the third round of the 2014 French Open against Paula Ormaechea.

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In the second round, Sharapova will face Rebecca Peterson of Sweden, who outplayed Romania’s Sorana Cirstea in her first match.

Defending Australian Open champion Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark propelled herself into the second round with a confident 6-3, 6-4 victory over Belgian Alison van Uytvanck.

Germany’s Angelique Kerber, who is seeded second in Melbourne, also reached the second round by recording a 6-2, 6-2 win over Slovenia's Polona Hercog.

Fifth seed Sloane Stephens of the USA sent home fellow American Taylor Townsend 6-4, 6-2.

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