Spain's David Ferrer, the No. 4 seed, continued his recent winning ways on Monday, defeating Belgium's Olivier Rochus 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 in the first round of the Australian Open.

The 30-year-old Ferrer, who won his fourth title in Auckland last week, needed just over 90 minutes to beat Rochus.

The world No. 5, who is playing in his 11th Australian Open and was a semifinalist in 2011, will play American Tim Smyczek in the second round.

Smyczek beat big Croatian Ivo Karlovic 6-4, 7-6 (7-5), 7-5.

Serbian world No. 1 Novak Djokovic took out France's Paul-Henri Mathieu 6-2, 6-4, 7-5.

Djokovic cruised in the first set, but the Frenchman stepped up his level of play in the second set.

Mathieu, however, committed 12 unforced errors in the third set and was unable to hold back Djokovic.

In other action involving Spanish and Latin American players, Spain's Fernando Verdasco beat Belgium's David Goffin 6-3, 3-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, while Argentina's Juan Monaco, the No. 11 seed, fell to Russia's Andrei Kuznetsov 7-6 (7-3), 6-1, 6-1.

On the women's side, Russia's Maria Sharapova easily beat countrywoman Olga Puchkova 6-0, 6-0.

The 25-year-old Sharapova, who is the No. 2 seed at the tournament, needed just 55 minutes to beat Puchkova.

No. 4 seed Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland defeated Australia's Bojana Robusic 7-5, 6-0 in an hour and 19 minutes.

Australia's Samantha Stosur, the No. 9 seed, beat Taipei's Kai Chen Chang 7-6 (7-3), 6-3.

Venus Williams of the United States, the No. 25 seed, beat Kazakhstan's Galina Voskoboeva 6-1, 6-0, while the Czech Republic's Klara Zakopalova, the No. 23 seed, beat South Africa's Chanelle Scheepers 6-1 6-2.

The Australian Open, the year's first Grand Slam tournament, began on Monday in Melbourne. EFE