Melbourne - Spain's fourth seed David Ferrer,
coming off a career-best season, eased past Belgian Olivier Rochus into
the second round at the Australian Open on Monday.
elevated to number four seed following the withdrawal of last year's
finalist Rafael Nadal, had few problems putting away the 126th-ranked
Belgian, 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 in 1hr 50min on Hisense Arena.
The super-fit Spaniard will now take on American Tim Smyczek in the second round.
consistent Ferrer, who lost to eventual champion Noval Djokovic in last
year's quarter-finals and reached the semis in 2011, led last year's
ATP Tour with seven titles in eight finals to finish the year at number
Ferrer chalked up an early title this year with a fourth ATP
Auckland crown in beating German Philipp Kohlschreiber last weekend on
the way to Auckland.
Ferrer broke the Belgian's serve six times
and dropped service twice, hitting 30 winners with 17 unforced errors in
a strong all-court performance.
It was the Spaniard's eighth win
over Rochus in 10 meetings and he has played at every Grand Slam event
since making his debut at the 2003 Australian Open.