Federer launches campaign with sublime win

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    MELBOURNE. — Roger Federer showed no sign of rust despite lack of practice ahead of the Australian Open as he launched his bid for a record-extending 21st Grand Slam title by hammering Steve Johnson 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 in the first round on Monday.

    Playing his first competitive match since losing to Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas in the ATP Finals in November, the 38-year-old broke his opponent’s serve early in each of the three sets and closed out the match when Johnson hit a return long.

    Seven-time Australian Open champion Serena Williams looked in ominous form as she opened her 19th campaign with a 6-0, 6-3 trouncing of Anastasia Potapova.

    Williams, 38, will play Slovenia’s Tamara Zidansek or South Korean wildcard Han Na-lae in the second round as she continues her quest to match Margaret Court’s record career tally of 24 Grand Slam singles titles.

    Defending champion Naomi Osaka fired back at a social media user who jeered her arrival on court before her 6-2, 6-4 victory over Czech Republic’s Marie Bouzkova.

    The 22-year-old from Japan next faces China’s Zheng Saisai, who needed just 72 minutes to beat Russian qualifier Anna Kalinskaya 6-3, 6-2.

    Osaka, who admitted to some nerves entering the tournament as defending champion, was less than impressed with one social media user who wrote “Boooooooooooo” on the event’s official Twitter page as it announced the match was about to start.