Melbourne: A ruthless Rafael Nadal showed no mercy in a clinical first round thumping at the Australian Open which started here 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, 7-5 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.
Fifth seed Kevin Anderson also progressed against Adrian Mannarino, with last year’s Wimbledon finalist a 6-3, 5-7, 6-2, 6-1 winner.
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,” said the Russian beauty queen.
“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,” added Sharapova.
Fifth seeded Sloane Stephens got back to business with an easy two-set win against fellow American Taylor Townsend 6-4, 6-2 while 11th seed Aryna Sabalenka, widely tipped as a potential future champion, also safely negotiated round one on a hot day by beating Anna Kalinskaya 6-1, 6-4. The seeds in the women’s segment to fall on the day were Germany’s 14th seed Julia Goerges beaten by Danielle Collins 6-2, 6-7(5-7), 4-6 while former French Open Champion Jelena Ostapenko lost 1-6, 6-3, 2-6 to Maria Sakkari of Germany.
Other important results
Grigor Dimitrov bt Janko Tipsarevic 4-6, 6-3, 6-1, 6-4
Tomas Berdych bt Kyle Edmund 6-3, 6-0, 7-5,
Gael Monfils bt Damir Dzumhur 6-0, 6-4, 6-0