Nadal sweeps at Australian
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.