Nadal, Shara­pova ad­vance

The Philippine Star - - SPORTS -

MEL­BOURNE – Rafael Nadal has missed a lot of ten­nis since last Septem­ber. He hasn’t missed a beat.

The No. 2-seeded Nadal had a 6-4, 6-3, 7-5, win over Aus­tralian wild-card en­try James Duck­worth on Mon­day in the first round of the Aus­tralian Open, his first match back on Rod Laver Arena since he had to re­tire in his quar­ter­fi­nal match last year.

The 17-time ma­jor win­ner hasn’t played since re­tir­ing from his semi­fi­nal at the US Open be­cause of a knee in­jury, and then had surgery on his right an­kle in Novem­ber. He with­drew from a warmup tour­na­ment in Bris­bane in the first week of the sea­son be­cause of a mus­cle strain in his thigh.

“Not easy to come back af­ter a lot of months of com­pe­ti­tion, es­pe­cially against a player play­ing su­per ag­gres­sive ev­ery shot,” Nadal said. “It’s very dif­fi­cult to start af­ter an in­jury – I know it very well. It’s very spe­cial to be back.”

Maria Shara­pova has the sec­ond-best record among ac­tive women’s play­ers in first-round matches at the ma­jors, and she gave an il­lus­tra­tion of why that’s the case with a ruth­less 6-0, 6-0 win over Har­riet Dart.

The 2008 Aus­tralian Open cham­pion got play started on Rod Laver Arena and needed only 63 min­utes to ad­vance.

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