Australian Open: Nadal starts campaign in style


Melbourne, Jan 15: Spanish tennis great Rafael Nadal commenced his Australian Open campaign with a 6-1, 6-1, 6-1 thrashing of Victor Estrella Burgos of the Dominican Republic in the opening round of the men’s singles competition here on Monday.

The top ranked and top seeded Nadal wrapped up the win in 94 minutes to send a warning to the rest of the men’s singles field, reports Efe news agency.

Nadal, who had won both the US Open and the French Open in 2017, dominated the match from the very first point and built up a 5-0 advantage in all three sets over his rival.

Burgos managed to hold his serve only once in the first set, which 2009 Australian Open champion Nadal sealed in 23 minutes.

In the second set, Nadal lost his serve once in the sixth game after squandering two set points, but he recovered quickly to secure the set on Burgos’ serve.

Nadal continued to dominate the third set, again allowing his rival to hold serve only once.

This was Nadal’s first competitive match after his withdrawal from the 2017 ATP Finals in London due to a right knee injury.

The powerful start to the Australian Open shows he remains a force to be reckoned with, despite this being the first time he arrived in Melbourne without having played a single competitive match in the season.

Physical issues prevented him from taking part in the Brisbane International and an exhibition tournament held in Abu Dhabi.

In the second set, Nadal is scheduled to face Leonardo Mayer of Argentina, who defeated Chile’s Nicolas Jarry 6-2, 7-6 (7-1), 6-3.

Sixth-seed Marin Cilic of Croatia also advanced to the second round, defeating Canadian qualifier Vasek Pospisil 6-2, 6-2, 4-6, 7-6 (7-5).

Cilic, the 2014 US Open champion, is set to square off against either Portugal’s Joao Sousa or Dustin Brown of Germany.

Local favourite Nick Kyrgios of Australia, the 17th seed, prevailed over Brazil’s Rogerio Dutra Silva 6-1, 6-2, 6-4.

This is the first time in three years that Kyrgios has advanced to the second round in the first Grand Slam event of the season.

Fresh off his win at the 2018 Brisbane International, Kyrgios is set to take on Viktor Troicki of Serbia in the second round.

Spain’s David Ferrer, a former top-10 player, failed to advance to the second round in a Grand Slam for the second time in a row.

The 35-year-old Ferrer was defeated by Andrey Rublev of Russia 7-5, 6-7 (6-8), 6-2, 6-7 (6-8), 6-2.

Ferrer, a 2013 semi-finalist here, had previously been stunned in the 2017 US Open by Mikhail Kukushkin of Kazakhstan.

In another match, Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov opened his bid for a first Grand Slam title with a comfortable 6-3, 6-2, 6-1 win over Austrian qualifier Dennis Novak.

World No.3 Dimitrov needed one hour and 38 minutes to prevail over the player 220 spots lower than him on the ATP rankings in their first ever meeting.

The 24-year-old Novak committed a total 21 unforced errors compared to just 12 winners, handing his rival 14 breakpoints.

The 2017 ATP Finals champion seized on 6 of them, and was able to save the two he presented the Austrian.

Dimitrov is scheduled to play either the United States’ Mackenzie McDonald or Sweden’s Elias Ymer in the second round.

The Bulgarian hopes to build on his performances in 2017, when he won his first-ever ATP title in Canada and the ATP Finals in London, and reached the semifinals at Melbourne, his best run so far at the first Grand Slam of the season.

Spaniard Pablo Carreño Busta, the 10th seed, prevailed over Australian wildcard Jason Kubler 7-5, 4-6, 7-5, 6-1.

American John Isner, seeded 16th, was stunned by Australian Matthew Ebden 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3.

In another upset in the men’s singles competition, Briton Kyle Edmund stunned South African Kevin Anderson, the 11th seed, 6-7(4-7) 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.