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American Andy Roddick made a confident start to his title campaign at the 2008 Australian Open, defeating Czech qualifier Lukas Dlouhy on opening Monday in Melbourne, while top Brit Andy Murray became the first seeded casualty with a loss to Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (pictured).
Roddick, the No. 6 seed this week, played a clean match with just 11 unforced errors to Dlouhy's 44 as he clinched the 6-3, 6-4, 7-5 victory in one hour and 38 minutes.
The 25-year-old Roddick is making his seventh straight appearance at the Australian Open, and last year matched his best Melbourne showing by reaching the semifinals (l. to Federer). He also reached the Australian Open semifinals in 2003 and '05.
Murray, meanwhile, failed to take advantage of his recent Doha title win that propelled him to his highest career Grand Slam seeding of No. 9 as he was stunned by Tsonga, 7-5, 6-4, 0-6, 7-6(5). The 22-year-old Tsonga made his Australian Open debut last year in a first round loss to Roddick.
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Tsonga has enjoyed a strong start to the season, reaching the semifinals at Adelaide and winning the doubles title last week in Sydney alongside compatriot Richard Gasquet. He currently stands at a career-high No. 38 in the South African Airways ATP Rankings.
In a first round meeting between two former Australian Open finalists, German Rainer Schuettler (pictured right) got the best of France's Arnaud Clement 6-4, 6-2, 6-7(3), 6-4. The 31-year-old Schuettler converted on seven of his 15 break point chances to win the match in three hours, 13 minutes. In doing so, he snapped a streak of six straight opening round losses at Grand Slam tournaments.
Both Schuettler and Clement were making their 10th appearance at the Australian Open and came into the first round match with identical 12-9 career records at the tournament. Both also finished runner-up to American Andre Agassi, Schuettler in 2003 and Clement two years earlier.
Eleventh-seeded Spaniard Tommy Robredo, who turned in a career-best quarterfinal run at the Australian Open last year, escaped a first round scare as he came back to defeat German Mischa Zverev, 4-6, 2-6, 7-6(2), 6-4, 7-5. Robredo hit 88 winners during the four-hour battle, including 59 over the final three sets.
The 25-year-old Robredo had come to Melbourne looking for his first match win of the 2008 ATP season after losing his openers at Doha and Sydney. He next faces American Mardy Fish, a four-set winner over Serb Boris Pashanski. The two last squared off at last year's US Open with Robredo winning in five sets.
Finn Jarkko Nieminen, the No. 24 seed, and Frenchman Gilles Simon, the No. 28 seed, were also was put to the test in their first round matches as both needed five sets to get by Canadian Frank Dancevic and American Bobby Reynolds, respectively.
Nieminen, a finalist in Adelaide final two weeks ago, next plays 20-year-old American wild card Jesse Levine, who made an impressive Australian Open debut by defeating Argentine Martin Vassallo Arguello, 6-1, 7-5, 6-1.
France's Paul-Henri Mathieu and Marc Gicquel joined compatriot Simon as early winners in early Day 1 action. The 23rd-seeded Mathieu dismissed Romanian Victor Hanescu 6-1, 7-6(4), 6-2, while Gicquel toughed out a 6-3, 4-6, 6-7(6), 6-4, 6-2 win against Taiwan's Yen-Hsun Lu .
Meanwhile, No. 20 seed Ivo Karlovic defeated British qualifier Jamie Baker in four sets to set up a second round meeting with Israeli Dudi Sela. The 22-year-old Sela eased to a 6-2, 6-4, 6-2 victory over Austrian qualifier Martin Slanar to reach the Australian Open second round for the second year in a row. Last year, he opened with a win over Paradorn Srichaphan before falling to Marat Safin in five sets.