MELBOURNE, Australia — Top-ranked Roger Federer had some anxious moments in his first-round match at the Australian Open before fending off Russia’s Igor Andreev 4-6, 6-2, 7-6 (2), 6-0.
Federer lost the first set Tuesday after having his service broken in the ninth game, then had to save three set points against Andreev’s serve in the 12th game of the third set before winning it in a tiebreaker.
He dominated the fourth, ensuring there was no similar end to his previous match at Rod Laver Arena — he finished in tears last year after losing the final to Rafael Nadal.
“I hoped I was going to hang in there, that he was going to get tired. It was a tough first round. I’m really, really relieved,” Federer said. “I think I definitely got lucky to get out of that one. It was a fortunate third set today.”
Federer hasn’t lost the opening round since the 2003 French Open, the event before he won Wimbledon for the first of his 15 Grand Slam titles.
“I prefer easier matches, but this worked as well.”
About the same time Federer dropped the first set, Serena Williams was in a news conference discussing how proud she was of extending her record of never losing the first round of a major.
She was more subdued in her first Grand Slam match since her outburst at the U.S. Open, starting the defense of her Australian Open title with a 6-2, 6-1 win over 18-year-old Polish player Urszula Radwanska.
The victory was more like her previous match at Melbourne Park — a 6-0, 6-3 win over now No. 2-ranked Dinara Safina in last year’s final — than her last in a major: her loss to Kim Clijsters in the semifinals at Flushing Meadows.
Her tirade against a line judge who called her for a foot fault cost Williams that match, a record fine of $82,500 and a suspended ban which means she’ll miss a U.S. Open if she has another such outburst at any Grand Slam event in the next two years.
Williams has written about the fine being unfair, saying it wouldn’t have been applied to a man in the same situation. But she has accepted it, set up a charity to raise an amount equal to the fines she received, and moved on.
“I always said what I did wasn’t right, but I turned that around and I’m actually raising $92,000 to educate ladies, women, also for my school in Africa … also I’m giving some money to Haiti,” she said. “I don’t know whoever got fined like that. People said worse, done worse. I just thought it was a bit much.”
As for the suspended ban?
“No, that hasn’t crossed my mind at all as if I yell too much, it would be a problem,” she said. “I feel like I can always be myself.
“You know, I just do the best that I can. I’ll say, ‘C’mon.’ I’ll get frustrated. I’ll still be human. I’ll still make mistakes. I’ll still learn from them.”
The 28-year-old American hurt her left knee at the Sydney International last Friday night and later said she has been bothered by a foot problem.
Williams played with her right thigh heavily wrapped with a white bandage Tuesday, but said it was more for a precaution against injury than anything else. It didn’t seem to restrict her movement.
Williams broke Radwanska in the opening game to set the tone. Even serving for the set at 5-1 and 40-0, she huffed when her forehand landed too long. Next point, she clinched the set with an ace.
Radwanska saved three match points before dumping a backhand into the net.
Williams had the vocal backing of the crowd in Melbourne, where she has won the title every odd-numbered year since 2003.
Her sister, Venus Williams, was playing later Tuesday against Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic. In what the WTA said was a record for the longest women’s match at a major in the Open era, Barbora Zahlavova Strycova of the Czech Republic needed 4 hours, 19 minutes to beat Russia’s Regina Kulikova 7-6 (5), 6-7 (10), 6-3.
On the men’s side, sixth-seeded Nikolay Davydenko, No. 9 Fernando Verdasco — who lost an epic five-set semifinal to Nadal here last year — No. 12 Gael Monfils of France, No. 19 Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland and No. 21 Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic all advanced.
Americans James Blake and John Isner reached the second round, but No. 25 Sam Querrey lost to German veteran Rainer Schuettler. Blake had a 7-5, 7-5, 6-2 win over Frenchman Arnaud Clement, while Isner held off Andreas Seppi of Italy 6-3, 6-3, 3-6, 5-7, 6-4.
Fabrice Santoro extended his Grand Slam career into a fourth decade, but he lasted only one match — a 7-5, 7-5, 6-3 loss to 14th-seeded Marin Cilic of Croatia.
The 37-year-old Frenchman, who started his Grand Slam career at the 1989 French Open, retired last season but returned to Melbourne Park for a record 70th major.
Ana Ivanovic, who reached the Australian Open final and won the French Open in 2008, opened with a 6-2, 6-3 win over American Shenay Perry in the first match to finish Tuesday.
“I was pleased with the way I played. The conditions were very tough. It was very cold and windy,” Ivanovic said. “But I just tried to work my way through, just taking time, try to stay composed. I thought I played well and served good.”
The rain that allowed only 26 of the scheduled 64 matches to be completed on the opening day gave way to sunny conditions by Tuesday afternoon.
Elsewhere, No. 8 Jelena Jankovic, No. 11 Marion Bartoli, No. 13 Sam Stosur and No. 19 Nadia Petrova advanced along with No. 26 Aravane Rezai, who beat India’s Sania Mirza 6-4, 6-2.
No. 18 Virginie Razzano lost 6-2, 6-3 to Russia’s Ekaterina Makarova and American Vania King ousted No. 23 Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia 6-3, 6-7 (5), 7-5.
Justine Henin made her comeback to Grand Slam tennis on Monday night with a 6-4, 6-3 win over fellow Belgian Kirsten Flipkens in her first match at a major since she lost to eventual champion Maria Sharapova in the quarterfinals of the 2008 Australian Open.
Nadal, U.S. Open champion Juan Martin del Potro, No. 5 Andy Murray and No. 7 Andy Roddick were among the men who advanced Monday.