Nadal sweeps at Aus­tralian

The Republican Herald - - SPORTS - BY JOHN PYE

MEL­BOURNE, Aus­tralia — Rafael Nadal wasn’t about to let an­other Aus­tralian wild- card en­try beat him at a Grand Slam tour­na­ment.

The Span­ish left- han­der beat No. 238th- ranked James Duck­worth 6- 4, 6- 3, 7- 5 to­day. It was his 15th win in 17 matches against wild cards at Grand Slam tour­na­ments.

Nadal’s only pre­vi­ous de­feats to wild- card en­trants at ma­jors were against Amer­i­can James Blake in the third round of the 2005 U. S. Open and Aus­tralian Nick Kyr­gios in the round of 16 at Wim­ble­don in 2014.

Nadal, wear­ing a sleeve­less top, did an ex­tended left- arm cel­e­bra­tory pump after break­ing Duck­worth’s serve after two cross- court stun­ners to lead 4- 2 in the third set.

His only stum­ble as he served for the match and was bro­ken by Duck­worth, who got back to 5- 4. But Nadal re­turned the fa­vor, break­ing the Aus­tralian in the fi­nal game of the match.

Nadal has only lost twice in the first round at Grand Slams — to Steve Dar­cis at 2013 Wim­ble­don, and to Fer­nando Ver­dasco at Mel­bourne Park in 2016.

On the women’s side, Maria Shara­pova has the sec­ond- best record among ac­tive 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 at the Aus­tralian Open.

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

In her 15th trip to Mel­bourne Park and her 55th Grand Slam tour­na­ment, she’s acutely aware of the toll that the sun and long early matches can have on a player’s ti­tle am­bi­tions, so she gets straight to busi­ness.

Up next for Shara­pova is Re­becca Peter­son, who beat So­rana Cirstea, 6- 4, 6- 1.

Among the other seeded play­ers ad­vanc­ing were No. 11 Aryna Sa­balenka, who beat Anna Kalin­skaya 6- 1, 6- 4, No. 19 Caro­line Gar­cia, No. 29 Donna Ve­kic and No. 31 Pe­tra Mar­tic.

Danielle Collins ad­vanced to the sec­ond round of a ma­jor for the first time fol­low­ing a 2- 6, 7- 6 ( 5), 6- 4 win over No. 14- seeded Ju­lia Go­erges, who won the ti­tle in Auck­land to start the sea­son.

Katie Boul­ter earned the dis­tinc­tion of win­ning the first 10- point tiebreaker un­der the Aus­tralian Open’s new sys­tem for de­cid­ing sets.

Boul­ter beat Eka­te­rina Makarova 6- 0, 4- 6, 7- 6 ( 6), in­clud­ing 10- 6 in the tiebreaker. The new tiebreaker rule was in­tro­duced to en­sure games don’t get too lengthy — pre­vi­ously the third set in women’s matches and the fifth set in men’s matches at the Aus­tralian Open had to be de­cided by a two- game ad­van­tage.

Fifth- seeded Kevin An­der­son won his first match at Mel­bourne Park since 2015 when he beat Adrian Man­nar­ino 6- 3, 5- 7, 6- 2, 6- 1. Also ad­vanc­ing on the men’s side were No. 19 Nikoloz Basi­lashvili and No. 26 Fer­nando Ver­dasco.

De­fend­ing cham­pion Caro­line Woz­ni­acki was sched­uled to play Ali­son Van Uty­vanck to start the night ses­sion, fol­lowed by six- time Aus­tralian cham­pion Roger Fed­erer’s match against De­nis Is­tomin.

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