Seamless Nadal drubs Australian Duckworth in Melbourne opener

Rafael Nadal eyes Australian Open title 'I am playing well'

Rafale Nadal during the 2019 Australian Open. He hasn't missed a beat.

Former champion Rafa Nadal showed no signs of discomfort from his thigh strain as he sailed through to the second round of the Australian Open with a 6-4 6-3 7-5 win over local hope James Duckworth on Monday.

The 17-time major victor hasn't played since retiring from his semifinal at the U.S. Open because of a knee injury, and then had surgery on his right ankle in November. Nadal pulled out of his Brisbane warm-up event two weeks ago with a thigh strain but insisted his injury woes were behind him.

'I'm very, very happy to be through'.

Nadal, who is bidding to become the first man in the Open Era, and only the third man ever, to win each of the four Grand Slams twice, ran his opponent down with his superior court coverage and ability to hit winners under pressure.

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.

Back in 2014, Roger had the unique privilege to hit with Rod Laver on the Rod Laver Arena and the great Aussie was there again to watch Roger in 2016 during his match against David Goffin.

The Swiss will kick off the 20th Australian Open in a row against Denis Istomin on Monday night on Rod Laver Arena and the man after who the stadium was named after will be there to watch Federer in action, always admiring the skills and tennis knowledge of the 20-time Grand Slam champion. The Russian ended her 2018 season early with a shoulder injury.

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Denmark's Wozniacki broke through for her first Slam title in Melbourne previous year, beating Simona Halep in the final, and said she was relishing defending a major for the first time. I don't know my percentage, but there were a lot of good positions after the first serve. "I think I was just focused on not having a letdown".

"And, you know, trust that that's going to pay dividends for me in the future".

Also advancing were 2017 U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens, No. 11 Aryna Sabalenka, No. 19 Caroline Garcia, No. 29 Donna Vekic and No. 31 Petra Martic.

But Germany's 14th seed Julia Goerges, who won the recent Auckland Classic, crashed out in three sets to American Danielle Collins.

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

Nadal looked in impressive form in his first competitive match since the US Open in September.

Fifth seed Kevin Anderson also progressed against Adrian Mannarino, with last year's Wimbledon finalist through 6-3, 5-7, 6-2, 6-1.

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