Melbourne: Talk of a players' strike again swirled around Melbourne Park on Monday as the Australian Open got underway in stifling conditions.   

After a week of drizzle and heavy cloud cover, blue skies welcomed the players to the tournament's opening day, with temperatures rising quickly in the morning and flirting with 30 degrees Celsius before midday.   

Storm clouds, however, could be gathering over the men's game with Ukraine's Sergiy Stakhovsky telling Reuters that players had suggested they might need to go on strike for a more equitable split in prize money and a revamped playing schedule.   

"Some of the players were suggesting that we're not really going to play here," world number 65 Stakhovsky said in an interview at Melbourne Park, referring to an ATP players' meeting on Saturday.   

"(They) got quite a lot of votes for that, too. But it was just not right, because we're here and the Australian Open would have no chance to change anything.   

"It was enough (votes not to play). It was more than enough."   

While temperatures rose behind the scenes, world number two Rafa Nadal took advantage of cooler conditions in the early evening and romped into the second round with a 6-4, 6-1, 6-1 victory over Alex Kuznetsov.   

Women's champion Kim Clijsters also got her title defence off to a strong start with a 7-5, 6-1 victory over Portugal's Maria Joao Koehler.   

Women's world number one Caroline Wozniacki and men's third seed Roger Federer are scheduled to play their first round matches later on the main showcourt.   

'Where's My Coffee?'   

Earlier, local fans had plenty to cheer with teenager Bernard Tomic coming back from a two-set deficit to beat 22nd seed and 2009 Melbourne Park semi-finalist Fernando Verdasco 4-6, 6-7, 6-4, 6-2, 7-5 in four hours, 11 minutes on Rod Laver Arena.   

The gangly Tomic has now assumed the mantle from Lleyton Heiwtt as the host country's main hope for a first men's title since Mark Edmondson in 1976.   

After some youthful and ill-received bravado earlier in his career, Tomic is taking local expectations in his giant stride.   

"The crowd always want an Australian in the final to do well, best as they can, at a home slam but they don't realise it's one of the hardest things in the world," Tomic said.    

"To have so many world class players you have to beat on the way to get to the quarters, let alone a final, it's the hardest thing.    

"I'm only going to learn and get confidence, and one day be in the position to get to the finals of majors."     

Australian wildcard Casey Dellacqua also came back from a period of two years off following shoulder and foot surgeries to set up a second round clash against third seed Victoria Azarenka after a 6-3, 6-2 win over Serbia's Bojana Jovanovski.   

Azarenka had missed her morning coffee and was in no mood to hang around in the Melbourne heat on Monday, getting her campaign off to a winning start with a 6-1, 6-0 victory over Britain's Heather Watson on Rod Laver Arena.   

Azarenka, who only arrived in Melbourne on Saturday after she won the Sydney International title, needed just 67 minutes to beat Watson, though she paid a high price for an early morning practice session on the main Rod Laver Arena.   

"Actually, I didn't get my coffee in the morning today, so I was really pissed off," the 22-year-old said to laughter. "So tomorrow I'm definitely getting it.    

"It was so early and I wanted to come play a little bit longer on centre court. Everything was closed.     

"I said, 'Oh my God, I need my coffee'.

"So I kept trying to open my eyes without it and it was not working."   

Former U.S. Open champion Juan Martin Del Potro took a while to get going in his first round match against French left hander Adrian Mannarino before eventually running out a 2-6, 6-1, 7-5, 6-4 winner in just under three hours.   

While the players on court coped well with the early heat, it did claim one victim during Del Potro's victory over Mannarino as the match was held up for five minutes in the second set when first aid staff was called to assist a spectator, who was taken away for treatment.

(Agencies)