MELBOURNE, Australia — Roger Federer was sublime at times in his opening win. Novak Djokovic was businesslike and to the point.
Their messages to Rafael Nadal on Monday were no doubt the same: The Spaniard will have to be at his very best to complete his "Rafa Slam" at the Australian Open.
Defending champion Federer dismantled Lukas Lacko 6-1, 6-1, 6-3, mixing some classic touch and angled shots with aggressive groundstrokes in the third match at Rod Laver Arena. Lacko's only break came in the second set, when he successfully challenged two baseline calls in one game that had been given to Federer as winners — the 16-time Grand Slam champion must have mesmerized the line judges with his earlier precision.
Federer is aiming to become only the second man to win the Australian Open five times; Roy Emerson won six. Retaining the title at Melbourne Park would stall the prospect of knowing what it's like not to hold any of the major trophies. He's won at least one of the four each year since 2003.
At the moment, Nadal owns three — winning the French, Wimbledon and U.S. Open crowns last year to get himself into position to be the first man to win four consecutive majors since Laver in 1969.
He starts Tuesday against Marcos Daniel of Brazil. Also on his half of the draw are last year's finalist, Andy Murray, and No. 4-ranked Robin Soderling.
Soderling had trouble in Melbourne last year, exiting in the first round in an upset loss to Marcel Granollers.
With that in mind, Djokovic took no chances against Granollers on Monday night, soundly beating the 24-year-old Spaniard.
"I try to think about myself and my matches, the opponents that I have to face, not about the other guys," he said. "Of course, all the credit to Rafa and Roger. They are deservedly the two biggest favorites to win this tournament.
"(But) definitely this performance gives me more confidence and gives me enough reason to think that I can beat anyone."