Nadal flies into Open round two as Ker­ber is­sues warn­ing

The Borneo Post - - SPORT -

MEL­BOURNE: A ruth­less Rafael Nadal showed no mercy in a clin­i­cal first round thump­ing at the Aus­tralian Open Mon­day with fel­low for­mer cham­pi­ons An­gelique Ker­ber and Maria Shara­pova also romp­ing through.

The 17-time Grand Slam win­ner, who cut short his 2018 sea­son to have surgery on a foot in­jury, cruised into round two of the year’s open­ing ma­jor 6- 4, 6- 3, 75 against Aus­tralian wild­card James Duck­worth.

“Not easy to come back af­ter a lot of months, es­pe­cially against a player play­ing su­per ag­gres­sive on ev­ery point,” said the 2009 Aus­tralian cham­pion, who showed no sign of any in­jury wor­ries.

“The en­ergy I feel in this place is fan­tas­tic,” he added.

The Span­ish sec­ond seed is bid­ding to be­come the first man in the Open era, and only third in his­tory along with Roy Emer­son and Rod Laver, to win each Grand Slam on two or more oc­ca­sions.

Fifth seed Kevin An­der­son also pro­gressed against Adrian Man­nar­ino, with last year’s Wim­ble­don fi­nal­ist a 6- 3, 5-7, 62, 6-1 win­ner. Nex­tGen Fi­nals cham­pion Ste­fanos Tsit­si­pas also went through in four sets.

Women’s sec­ond seed An­gelique Ker­ber swept past Slove­nia’s Polona Hercog 6-2, 6-2, with the Wim­ble­don cham­pion pro­duc­ing a clin­i­cal dis­play to launch her cam­paign at a tour­na­ment she won in 2016.

“We now have 2019 and I try to con­tinue to play how I did last year,” said the three-time Grand Slam win­ner.

Shara­pova, a win­ner at Mel­bourne Park in 2008, sig­nalled her in­tent with a rare 6- 0, 6- 0 dou­ble bagel de­mo­li­tion of Bri­tain’s Har­riet Dart, who ended the match in tears.

Play­ing in her 15th Aus­tralian Open, the three-time fi­nal­ist said she was pleased to go through so eas­ily as she bat­tles back from in­juries.

“It was a good test for my leg, for my shoul­der,” she said.

“I’m still work­ing through some painful days. But, you know, I felt like I did all the right things to­day in or­der to get through that match.”

Fifth seeded Sloane Stephens, the 2017 US Open cham­pion who strug­gled in her warm- up tour­na­ments in Bris­bane and Syd­ney, got back to busi­ness with an easy two-set win against fel­low Amer­i­can Tay­lor Townsend.

Eleventh seed Aryna Sa­balenka, widely tipped as a po­ten­tial fu­ture cham­pion, also safely ne­go­ti­ated round one on a hot day. But Ger­many’s 14th seed Ju­lia Go­erges, who won the re­cent Auck­land Clas­sic, crashed out, as did for­mer French Open cham­pion Je­lena Ostapenko.

Bri tain’s Kat ie Boul ter, mean­while, cre­ated a slice of his­tory by be­com­ing the first woman to win in a third set tiebreak – a new rule in­tro­duced to the Open this year.

In­stead of play­ing to the death, third or fifth sets now go to a tiebreak when the score reaches 6- 6 and it be­comes the first to 10.

It seemed Boul­ter wasn’t told, fist-pump­ing and walk­ing to the net at 7/4 be­fore be­ing re­minded of the new rule. She went on to beat Rus­sia’s Eka­te­rina Makarova 6- 0, 4- 6, 7- 6 (10/6). Roger Fed­erer and Caro­line Woz­ni­acki open thei r t it le de­fences later in the day, while Andy Mur­ray takes to the court for what could be his farewell match in Mel­bourne and po­ten­tially his last ever.

Swiss mae­stro Fed­erer, seeded three, has won the last two Aus­tralian Opens and is gunning for a record sev­enth crown and 21st Grand Slam ti­tle.

He starts off against De­nis Is­tomin on Rod Laver Arena.

For­mer world num­ber one Mur­ray tear­fully re­vealed last week that se­vere pain from a hip in­jury was prov­ing too much to bear and he planned to re­tire this year.

He would like to fin­ish at Wim­ble­don, but ad­mit­ted the Aus­tralian Open could be his last tour­na­ment.

Spain’s 22nd seed Roberto Bautista Agut is the man who could draw the cur­tain on Mur­ray’s time Down Un­der, where he has been a five-time fi­nal­ist.

Den­mark’s Woz­ni­acki broke through for her first Slam ti­tle here last year, beat­ing Si­mona Halep in the fi­nal, and gets her tour­na­ment un­der way against Bel­gium’s Ali­son van Uyt­vanck.

Not easy to come back af­ter a lot of months, es­pe­cially against a player play­ing su­per ag­gres­sive on ev­ery point.

Rafael Nadal, 2009 Aus­tralian cham­pion

Ker­ber cel­e­brates her vic­tory against Hercog dur­ing their women’s sin­gles match on day one of the Aus­tralian Open ten­nis tour­na­ment in Mel­bourne. — AFP photo

Nadal cel­e­brates his vic­tory against Duck­worth dur­ing their men’s sin­gles match on day one of the Aus­tralian Open ten­nis tour­na­ment in Mel­bourne. — AFP photo

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