Clijsters humiliates Safina
Melbourne - Belgium's Kim Clijsters humiliated former world number one Dinara Safina 6-0, 6-0 on Tuesday to head an trio of impressive winners at the Australian Open.
Tournament favourite Clijsters sent Russia's Safina packing in only 44 minutes to send a stark warning to the rest of the field, following easy victories by Russia's Vera Zvonareva and local hero Samantha Stosur.
Second seed Zvonareva disposed of Austria's Sybille Bammer 6-2, 6-1 in 59 minutes, while fifth seed Stosur took 53 minutes to thrash American wildcard Lauren Davis 6-1, 6-1.
But 2008 runner-up and ex-number one Ana Ivanovic became another first-round casualty when she was shocked by 49th-ranked Russian Ekaterina Makarova 3-6, 6-4, 10-8.
It was a miserable result for Ivanovic, who finished 2010 strongly, winning two of her last three tournaments on the back of her improved fitness and who believed she was set for a climb back up the rankings from her current 21st.
Clijsters's emphatic win came a day after some fancied players struggled to overcome modest opponents in their first matches.
The two-time US Open champion was in complete control throughout the lopsided encounter, barely raising a sweat as she swept the distraught Safina from the Rod Laver Arena.
Safina was a runner-up at the Australian Open just two years ago but looked a shadow of her former self as Clijsters dominated every aspect of the game.
The first set was over in a lightning 20 minutes and the second flashed by in 24 as Clijsters underlined why she is many people's pick the title.
"I knew I had to be really focused and play the best I can," Clijsters said.
"I know Dinara didn't play at her best, but I just focused on my side of the net and didn't worry about what she was doing."
World number two Zvonareva declared she was ready to win her first Grand Slam title after her straightforward win over Bammer.
The 26-year-old from Moscow reached the finals of both Wimbledon and the US Open in 2010 and said she always felt comfortable playing in Australia.
Stosur, hoping to become the first Australian to win the women's title since Chris O'Neil in 1978, was ruthless as she took advantage of Davis's early nerves, rushing to a 5-0 lead before the American was on the scoreboard.
She said she was determined not to go easy on 17-year-old Davis, despite the American's youth and inexperience.
"I know what that feels like," Stosur said. "I've lost love and love on centre courts before -- that's not a good feeling. I guess it wasn't for her."
Elsewhere, former world number one Jelena Jankovic steadied when it mattered to advance to the second round over Russia's Alla Kudryavtseva.
The Serbian seventh seed, 25, cruised through the first set without dropping a game in just 25 minutes, but was given a scare in the second set, with the 66th-ranked Russian's powerful forehand causing plenty of problems.
Recent Brisbane International winner Petra Kvitova eased into the second round with a 6-2, 6-4 win over Australian wildcard Sally Peers, while 10th seeded Israeli Shahar Peer swept aside France's Mathilde Johansson 6-1, 6-1.
However, 12th seed Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland needed 2hr 35mins and trailed 1-4 in the third set before beating 40-year-old Kimiko Date-Krumm of Japan.
There was better news for Asian tennis when China's Peng Shuai downed Kateryna Bondarenko of Ukraine 2-6, 6-3, 8-6 in just over two hours, and Ayumi Morita of Japan beat 27th seed Alexandra Dulgheru of Romania 6-4, 6-4.