With the temperatures heating up, he was pushed to four sets by Ricardas Berankis before prevailing 6-3, 6-4, 2-6, 7-6 (7/2) in a tough workout he said was "proud" to come through. Djokovic, gunning for a seventh Australian Open title, was also glad to be back, having missed the competitive edge. "I wanted to start with the right intensity, which I have," he told the cheering crowd afterwards. "I played perfect tennis in the first couple of sets and Donald came back in the third set." World number one Simona Halep booked her place in round two, avoiding the first round exit that befell her in the past two years. But she made a meal of it against local hope Destanee Aiava. Both the Romanian and her 17-year-old wildcard opponent needed on-court medical attention before the top seed ran out a battling 7-6 (7/5), 6-1 winner. Sharapova, still working her way back from a 15-month ban for taking the performance-enhancing substance meldonium in Australia in 2016, showed glimpses of the tennis that made her a five-time major winner.
Maria is playing Sharapova. What are the odds? pic.twitter.com/BqzNsm78Zk— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) January 16, 2018
The 2008 Melbourne Park champion, now ranked 48, beat Germany's Tatjana Maria 6-1, 6-4 in her first Melbourne match in two years. "I cherish these moments. I love it here," said the Russian, who returned from her drugs ban in April last year. "It's been a couple of years and I wanted it to be really meaningful to me." Fellow former world number one Angelique Kerber, who won the tournament in 2016, was also impressive in dismissing Anna-Lena Friedsam 6-0, 6-4. "2017, I have said goodbye already, I am not looking back," she said after a forgettable last season that saw her relinquish the number one spot and slide down the rankings.
The Aussie summers get so warm, during which the body can lose over a liter of water an hour! Crazy, right?! Always making sure #Evian is by my side throughout the day. On or off the court. pic.twitter.com/CoL2TWmbA2— Maria Sharapova (@MariaSharapova) January 15, 2018
American woes continued with Madison Brengle sent packing by British ninth seed Johanna Konta. Young gun Alexander Zverev, seeded four, and Belgian seventh seed David Goffin were among men to make the second round. But Canada's Milos Raonic, who has made at least the last eight over the past three years in Melbourne, was bundled out by 86th-ranked Slovakian Lukas Lacko in four sets. It was his earliest Grand Slam exit in seven years as he fights back from a wrist injury.
I've decided to contribute to a good cause. During the Australian Open I will donate through my endowment fund 100 USD for each ace to help children with oncological diseases. Keep your fingers crossed for me!✊ I'm really looking forward to this season's first Grand Slam ?? pic.twitter.com/MiLF3hHGET— Karolina Pliskova (@KaPliskova) January 15, 2018