Djokovic breezes past Mathieu into second round

MELBOURNE Mon Jan 14, 2013 12:23am EST

Novak Djokovic of Serbia hits a return to Paul-Henri Mathieu of France during their men's singles match at the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne, January 14, 2013. REUTERS/David Gray

Novak Djokovic of Serbia hits a return to Paul-Henri Mathieu of France during their men's singles match at the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne, January 14, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/David Gray

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MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Novak Djokovic successfully negotiated the first hurdle in his quest to rewrite the Australian Open record books with an opening round 6-2 6-4 7-5 victory over France's Paul-Henri Mathieu on Monday.

The 25-year-old Serb is attempting to win his third successive Australian Open title, and fourth overall. No man in the professional era has won three successive Australian titles.

Djokovic was rarely pushed by Mathieu, a former top-20 player whose ranking dropped after knee surgery ruled him out for the entire 2011 season, aside from the second game of the second set when he had to save three break points.

The world number one will now meet Ryan Harrison of the U.S. in the second round after the American had earlier overcome Colombia's Santiago Giraldo 2-6 6-4 7-5 6-4.

(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by John O'Brien)

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