2019 Australian Open: Angelique Kerber cruises past Polona Hercog in straight sets
Kerber reacts during her opening match in Melbourne/Photo: William West/Getty Images

Second seed Angelique Kerber got her Australian Open off to the perfect start with a commanding 6-2, 6-2 victory over Polona Hercog in just an hour and 14 minutes to set up a second round match with qualifier Beatriz Haddad Maia.

The 2016 champion is being tipped by many to claim this year's edition of the tournament and she showed why in her first-round victory, breaking the 92nd-ranked Slovenian four times while saving all four break points she faced.

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Kerber takes opening set

Hercog made a positive start to the match, holding and pushing Kerber to deuce twice in her first service game, but her forehand let her down soon after as the German held for 1-1. That spelled trouble for the Slovenian and she was soon behind as the second seed struck a sublime backhand winner on break point.

After saving a break point of her own, Kerber continued her assault, converting on her second break point with another forceful backhand after an exchange of slices for a 4-1 lead. Hercog continued to at least stay competitive, again getting to deuce on the German's serve, but no further and Kerber closed out the set a game later.

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German sails into second round

Hercog was in immediate trouble in the second set as she was broken straightaway after missing another forehand. The server was then dominant over a four-game span as Kerber led 3-1 and she soon replicated what she did in the first set with a second break as the world number 92's forehand continued to let her down.

A marathon 15-point game saw the world number two save three break points to move within one game of victory. After Hercog held, Kerber stepped up to serve out the match at 5-2. At 30-30, the German set up match point with a beautiful drop shot that the Slovenian thrashed into the net and clinched the win when Hercog missed a forehand.